Due to the La Brea Fire - which has burned over 10,000 acres east of Santa Maria - northern Santa Barbara County residents are being warned to prepare for declining air quality. Although air readings for all parts of the county are currently good, officials believe changing winds and weather may drive smoke into populated areas near the fire.
A rise in particulates - microscopic byproducts of smoke that irritate the respiratory system - may cause harmful side effects. Accordingly, area residents are being encouraged to limit time spent outdoors during the course of the fire, and to avoid outdoor exercise altogether when smoke is detected. Officials are also urging anyone experiencing symptoms of lung or heart disease - repeated coughing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness - to contact their health care provider.