July, August, and September are well known as the months with the worst smog in the Southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. But, the season starts early most years with a few 8-hour violations in April and May.
This year the air going into people’s lungs during the end of April and the beginning of May was worse than normal. A quick check shows the average 8-hour ozone readings in both Clovis and Bakersfield were about 20% higher than the previous three years.
What is the reason for this decline in air quality? Is it warmer than usual? Is the economy picking up? Has increased dairy production due to higher milk prices fouled the air?
It may be considered arbitrary and premature to compare 4 Spring weeks this year to the same 4 weeks in recent years and declare that air quality must be worsening. Ironically, the Valley Air Board did that last summer when they declared for the first time ever there had been no one hour ozone violations in August. August, by the way, had been worse than usual in terms of average ozone readings and September went on to have several one hour ozone violations. Meanwhile, the press and the public were falsely led to believe our air was getting better by this unilateral and unusual announcement.