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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

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Smog plagues Central Valley

A pause, a quick gasp, and a sudden pain doubles muscles into themselves as the student falls to their knees. Inside, airways constrict, and each breath presents a struggle as air slowly presses its way into inflamed windpipes.

“Quick, somebody find an inhaler!” A concerned crowd grows around the ailing student as a remedy is sought. Luckily, the first struggling gasp from the small tube brings instant relief.

Asthma runs rampant across the central Valley, and 3.9 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease at some point. Over 90% of Valley residents are subjected to unhealthy air quality throughout the year, according to the Valley Air Resources Board. Yet, even as numerous groups work to increase awareness about the ill effects of pollution, air quality continues to worsen.

“I have asthma,” Josh Powell, ’05 [soccer captain], said. “But I’ve lived here so long that I’m used to not being able to breathe; the smog doesn’t really make that big of a difference to me.”

In the past 15 years, Fresno’s air quality has retrogressed so far that Fresno is now rated among the top five cities in California with the worst air quality.

Smog strikes with a passion throughout the summer months, creating a growing number of days when the Air Pollution Control District deems it unhealthy to be outside for periods longer than 30 minutes.

Physical exercise during these days is highly discouraged, and children are often kept inside for recess, physical education and sports practices.

“Sometimes we are told that the air quality is unhealthy during summer football practices,” Philip Unruh, ’07 [football player], said. “Most of the time we just practice anyways, and I don’t think that the air quality really affects my ability to play.”

Pollution from factories and farm related pesticides couple with smog blowing down the state from Sacramento and the Bay Area. This smog hovers over the Valley, trapped by the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Coastal Ranges to the east and west.

Much like the legendary Los Angeles basin, summer months create an inversion layer in which smog builds to an extreme. A hazy sunlight filters through, but some residents of the Valley do not seem to even notice the disappearance of Fresno’s once bright blue skies.

“I’ve heard people talking about the bad air and smog in the Valley,” Damon O’Brien, ’05 [soccer player], said. “Honestly, I don’t even notice the smog, and it really doesn’t bother me at all.”

Smog’s negative effects on the Valley show no signs of abating. Until more advanced steps are taken to curb pollution, smog will continue to plague Valley residents with its harmful side effects.

For more information about the Air Pollution Control District, visit For more information about smog, visit

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