Santa Barbara Air Quality Remains a Concern

Santa Barbara Air Quality Remains a Concern title=
Santa Barbara Air Quality Remains a Concern
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(Photo courtesy of County of Santa Barbara)

Source: Public Health Department and Air Pollution Control District

The air quality in Santa Barbara has dropped from "Hazardous" to "Unhealthy," but officials warn the air continues to be harmful.

As of 1:00 p.m. on Friday, both Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara registered unhealthy air quality while Goleta rated "unhealthy for sensitive groups."

The unhealthy rating means everyone may begin to experience health effects and members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.

Monitoring stations continue to record unhealthy air in Santa Barbara County with high levels of fine particles (PM 2.5). Larger particles (PM 10) and smoke in the air will make air quality conditions appear worse and lead to poor visibility in some areas of the county. Those larger particles are less harmful to health than the smaller, fine particles, which are invisible. The larger particles can break down into smaller particles over time.

If you have symptoms that may be related to exposure to smoke and soot, contact your doctor. Symptoms include repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, headaches, and nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness.

Air District officials recommend that if you smell smoke or see ash, take precautions and use common sense to reduce your exposure to smoke. All adults and children should:

  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activity
  • Remain indoors as much as possible
  • Close all windows and doors that lead outside to prevent bringing additional smoke inside
  • Set any heating/air conditioning/ventilation systems to recirculate


These precautions are especially important for children, older adults, and people with existing respiratory illness and heart conditions, as they are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of poor air quality. Families with small children should be aware that even if adults in the household have no symptoms, children may experience symptoms due to their smaller body mass and developing lungs. If smoke increases, healthy people could be affected as well. If you experience a cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, exhaustion, light-headedness or chest pain, stop any outdoor activity immediately and seek medical attention.

It is recommended that you avoid ash clean-up on cars and other materials until conditions improve.

If you have to clean up ash, the following is recommended:

Use a damp cloth and spray areas lightly with water, take your vehicle to the car wash; wash off toys that have been outside in the ash; clean ash off pets; due to the corrosive nature of ash, avoid any skin contact with the ash (wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts); and do not use leaf blowers. Please note, if you have existing heart or lung conditions, avoid doing ash clean-up yourself or anything else that stirs the particles back up into the air. In addition, do not allow children to play in the ash.

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