All Santa Barbara County residents encouraged to prepare for wildfire smoke 

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD)  successfully distributed 505 air purifiers to residents of Guadalupe and Casmalia on Sunday, the first day  of a two-day distribution event for APCD’s Clean Air Rooms Pilot Program. The next distribution event is  scheduled for Thursday, September 30 (3pm-6pm), with 151 devices remaining for distribution. As  with Sunday’s event, the air purifiers on Thursday will be available on a first-come, first-served basis,  limited to one per household with proof of address for Guadalupe or Casmalia. APCD partnered with the  Guadalupe Dunes Center to host the distribution events.  

“It was fantastic to see the community enthusiasm for this Air Pollution Control District pilot program,”  said County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, whose District includes Guadalupe and Casmalia and who serves  as the Vice-Chair on the APCD Board of Directors. “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. Air purifiers are an excellent tool.”  

“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. Through the efforts and resources of the Santa Barbara County  Air Pollution Control District, local Guadalupe residents are obtaining free air purifiers for those  requiring air filtration systems to help breathe a better quality of air in their homes,” said Guadalupe  Mayor, Ariston Julian, who also serves on the APCD Board of Directors. “I encourage all families and  residents, if they did not participate on Sunday, to take advantage of the second distribution of free air  purifiers on Thursday with the goal of improving the health of residents.” 

Smoke and ash from wildfires contain very small particles known as particulate matter. These particles  affect our respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and people with heart or lung disease, seniors, kids,  and pregnant women are especially sensitive to smoke. In recent years, wildfire season has grown  longer and more intense, and associated smoke impacts have been more sustained and no longer  limited to the region where the wildfire occurs. As a result, short-term levels of particulate matter have  increased across the Western United States, with smoke from 2020 wildfires reaching 96 percent of  Californians1. Wildfires burning hundreds of miles away from Santa Barbara County in August-October  2020 caused significant impacts to our local air quality conditions.  

The best protection is to stay indoors as much as possible when smoke is present, which emphasizes the  importance of keeping indoor air clean. In a well-sealed indoor environment (with windows and doors  closed and sealed tightly), high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) devices can reduce particulate matter  indoors by more than 90 percent. Use of a HEPA device to create a “clean air room” – ideally, in a room  where you spend a lot of time, like a bedroom – would ensure that the home has a dedicated space with  safe indoor air quality during smoke events. 

APCD’s Clean Air Rooms Pilot Program was unanimously approved by APCD’s Board of Directors at the  June 17 meeting. The Board authorized APCD to spend $100,000 to purchase the air purifiers as part of  this program, with funds coming from a combination of APCD’s Clean Air Fund (composed of excess  Notice of Violation revenues) and operational reserves. APCD’s goal with this pilot program was to  purchase as many HEPA purifiers as possible with limited funds, and to provide the units to select Santa  Barbara County residents in traditionally underserved areas home to many outdoor workers, who often  endure wildfire smoke while working. APCD used a State-created mapping tool that analyzes  environmental, health, and socioeconomic data to determine that the communities of Guadalupe and  Casmalia would benefit from this pilot program. 

APCD was fortunate to partner with many community members and local nonprofit and government  entities to promote this event, including the Guadalupe Dunes Center, which generously offered to store  the devices and host the distribution days. Together, partners promoted this program to eligible  participants in Guadalupe and Casmalia and shared information about the benefits of air purifiers and  how to check air quality conditions to know when to use them.  

“We are so excited to see the popularity and community support for this program,” said Aeron Arlin  Genet, APCD Director. “If you weren’t able to participate in this pilot program, we strongly encourage  you to consider other ways to keep your home protected against wildfire smoke.” 

Resources & Information about HEPA Devices & “Clean Air Rooms” 

These devices can be purchased at local stores or online retailers, and come in various makes and  models, suitable for different room sizes. A HEPA device for a small bedroom typically costs  approximately $75-$100.  

If you are considering purchasing a HEPA purifier, here are some features to look for in a device: • Certified by California Air Resources Board for sale in the State of California: 

• HEPA-rated  

• Energy-Star-rated  

• A light indicator for filter replacement  

• Effective for the size of the room where you intend to use the device 

• Quiet operation—approximately 45 decibels or less 

APCD has a webpage dedicated to information about setting up your own “clean air room,” with  infographics that focus on 1) how to choose and use an air purifier; 2) how to create a do-it-yourself (DIY) air filtration device that works similarly at a lesser cost; and 3) how to minimize common sources  of indoor air pollution during wildfire smoke events.  APCD provides many resources on its website for checking and understanding Santa Barbara County air  quality conditions. Visit our website to see a rolling 24 hours’ worth of air quality readings for every  monitoring station in the county, as well as daily forecasts and more: quality. 


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.