Outdoor classes resume Tuesday after hazardous air quality poses concerns

Fresno State sign at the Shaw entrance. (Vendila Yang/The Collegian)

As air quality improved overnight, Fresno State made the decision to resume outdoor classes and activities after previously announcing their cancelation on Tuesday the night before.

Officials with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District forecast an air quality index reading of 99 for Tuesday as of Monday night. Conditions improved in the morning as the index reading was 25 as of 7 a.m., which prompted university officials to resume outdoor functions.

On Monday afternoon, the university previously canceled outdoor functions the remainder due to hazardous air quality. At 2 p.m., the air quality index reached 375 due to dust, specifically PM 10, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality data.

The buildup in dust is indicative of California’s ongoing drought which has gripped almost 88% of the state, and water levels have dropped well below averages due to a lack of precipitation.

Air quality is measured on a scale of 0 to 500. When the AQI reading exceeds 100, the air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups and later for everyone as it gets higher. Any reading below 100 is thought of as acceptable.

The national weather service’s Hanford office said high wind gusts kicked up a dust storm across the San Joaquin Valley. Officials issued a high wind warning Monday and told residents to expect northwest winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 45 mph.

On Monday, the storm caused multiple trees to come down across the valley along with power outages. The weather service’s wind warning expired at 11 p.m. as winds remaining above 45 mph gusts are confined to the Tehachapi mountains. 

Officials are advising employees who work primarily outdoors to work indoors and are encouraging all campus members to limit outdoor exposure. 

“To the extent possible, stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed,” Jiménez-Sandoval said in the email. 

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