Smoke from a pallet fire in downtown Stockton is affecting air quality in the city and could spread to the east side of San Joaquin County, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District said in a news release sent out Tuesday morning.

The health alert will remain in place until the fire is extinguished.

Smoke from fires produces fine-particulate matter (PM2.5), which can cause serious health problems including lung disease, asthma attacks and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. People with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people are especially susceptible to health effects from these pollutants. Air District officials urge residents to follow their doctors’ orders when exposed to PM2.5 and stay indoors if at all possible.

Residents can use the District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN) to track air quality at any valley address by visiting myRAAN.com. The RAAN monitors are designed to detect the microscopic PM2.5 particles that exist in smoke. Ash pieces, however, are much larger in size and will not be detected. If an area is affected by smoke and ash fall, air quality should be considered “unhealthy” (RAAN Level 4 or higher) even if the monitor reflects a lower reading. In addition, anyone can follow air quality conditions by downloading the free “Valley Air” app.

For more information, visit www.valleyair.org or call a District office in Fresno (559-230-6000), Modesto (209-557-6400) or Bakersfield (661-392-5500).

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