Casmalia and Guadalupe residents who didn’t pick up a free air purifier last Sunday will have another chance to receive one Thursday, although quantities are limited, a Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District spokeswoman said.
APCD, in partnership with the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, distributed 505 air purifiers as part of the district’s Clean Air Rooms Pilot Program designed to encourage county residents to prepare for potential impacts from wildfire smoke.
“It was fantastic to see the community enthusiasm for this Air Pollution Control District pilot program,” said County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, whose 3rd District includes Guadalupe and Casmalia and who attended Sunday’s event.
“Wildfire smoke poses a significant health threat, and with wildfire season becoming more year-round, it is so important for all of us to have tools to protect ourselves,” said Hartmann, who also serves as vice chair of the APCD board of directors. “Air purifiers are an excellent tool.”
Another 151 devices remain to be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to Guadalupe and Casmalia residents from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Dunes Center at 1065 Guadalupe St.
The air purification units are limited to one per household with proof of residence in either community.
Smoke and ash from wildfires contain very small particulates that affect respiratory and cardiovascular systems, especially among people with heart or lung disease, seniors, kids and pregnant women, said Lyz Bantilan, public information officer for APCD.
In recent years, wildfire season has become longer and more intense, and smoke that’s no longer limited to the region where a wildfire is burning has produced more sustained impacts over wider areas, Bantilan said.
Smoke from the 2020 wildfires reached 96% of all Californians, according to a Los Angeles Times report, and wildfires burning hundreds of miles away in August through October last year caused significant impacts to Santa Barbara County’s air quality, Bantilan said.
One protection from polluted air is to remain inside with doors and windows sealed, a strategy that can be enhanced by creating a “clean room” where the air is filtered using a high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, device that can reduce indoor particulates by more than 90%, she said.
In June, the APCD board of directors unanimously approved the Clean Air Rooms Pilot Program, authorized the staff to spend $100,000 to purchase as many air purifiers as possible and directed them to be distributed to traditionally underserved areas where many outdoor workers live.
Funds for the program came from the APCD’s Clean Air Fund, consisting of excess notice-of-violation revenues, and operational reserves.
Using a state-created mapping tool that analyzes environmental, health and socioeconomic data, the staff targeted the communities of Guadalupe and Casmalia for the pilot program.
“Guadalupe residents are having an opportunity to obtain a valuable tool to help our community in addressing the poor air quality we have experienced as a result of California fires, as well as other negative impacts on the air we breathe,” said Guadalupe Mayor Ariston Julian, who also serves on the APCD board of directors.
He encouraged all families and individuals who did not obtain an air purifier Sunday to take advantage of the second distribution to improve residents’ health.
APCD promoted the distribution in partnership with many community members and local nonprofit and government agencies, including the Dunes Center, which offered to store the devices and host the distribution days.