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The Air Is Pretty Bad This Weekend -- Here's Why, And How To Cope

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The buildings of downtown Los Angeles are partially obscured in the afternoon on November 5, 2019 as seen from near Pasadena, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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If you’re concerned about the air quality right now, you have good reason.

Southern California skies are hazy with wildfire smoke, and also ozone brought on by the excessive heat. On Friday, some areas saw the highest levels of ozone over a one-hour period in a decade. The trend is expected to continue this weekend with triple-digit temperatures.

According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which has issued an ozone advisory valid through Monday afternoon:

On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday afternoons, AQI (Air Quality Index) levels may reach the Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy AQI categories at times in the Santa Clarita Valley, the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Mountains, the San Gabriel Valley, the Inland Empire, the San Bernardino Mountains, and the Coachella Valley.

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The handful of wildfires burning right now are sending tiny particles of pollution into the air — particles that individually are nearly invisible.

However, “when you have a lot of them in the air, you will see the haze that you're seeing right now when you look out your window towards the fires,” said Philip Fine, deputy executive officer at the AQMD for the Planning and Rules Division.

Fine says this kind of pollution poses health risks, and can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

The bottom line: “If you smell smoke, or you see ash, or you see smoke in your area you should try to limit your exposure to that smoke,” Fine said.

Which means staying indoors, closing doors and windows if possible, and avoiding vigorous physical activity. And if you have air conditioning, clean the filters and keep the air recirculating.

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The AQMD has a guide to air quality and pollution on its website.

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