Waking up at 6 a.m. for a morning run feels healthy, but in the San Joaquin Valley, it’s sometimes hard to tell. Will I get those headaches, that cough, that light-headedness by mile two? Am I running in fog? Or smog?
There’s an easy way to know before you lace up those shoes. In fact, there’s a few ways. The San Joaquin Valley Air District, a government-run agency, maintains an air monitoring network across the San Joaquin Valley. They monitor for both winter-time particulate matter and summer-time ozone (smog). At valleyair.org you can check an air monitor near you (click the "RAAN" button on the right-hand side) and you can sign up for alerts sent straight to your phone when levels peak to dangerous levels (look down and to the right for an "Air Alert" button). Alternatively, air quality is integrated within the weather report at Weather Underground. You can download their app for your iPhone or check wunderground.com.
Depending on the air quality, you can tailor your exercise accordingly. If air quality reaches hazardous levels, a simple N95 mask you can find at any hardware store will protect you from 95 percent 99 percent of the deadly winter-time particulates. Those with asthma and other lung conditions, those with heart conditions, children, those over 65, outdoor workers and pregnant women should take every precaution as these groups are particularly sensitive to air pollution.
Happy (safe) running from the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition.
Genevieve Gale, Fresno