I wrote Sunday about a cloud of chemically diverse particles that hovered in the San Joaquin Valley early this month, and I described what happens when the chemicals enter your body.
In case you wanted to know more, a scientist with San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has a more detailed explanation.
District health science adviser David Lighthall says particles of ammonium nitrate – the region’s most common tiny pollution specks called PM-2.5 – sometimes are coated with organic compounds from combustion. These combustion sources include vehicles, charbroiling, wood fires, lawn care equipment and industrial boilers. The coating is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs.
The PAHs “chemically age” after several days during a Valley stagnation event as well as inside our bodies to become a second family of organic carbon compounds known as quinone. Quinones are notorious for triggering the body’s immune system and generating respiratory inflammation and associated symptoms.
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Young asthmatics in particular are vulnerable, and emergency room admissions climb significantly.
There were plenty of those symptoms all over the Valley earlier this month, doctors told me after the siege of particles. The air is clearer now, but keep an eye on the air district’s hourly monitoring to stay up with air quality in your area.