Impact of Santa Ana winds and Associated Poor Air Quality Air mass and Forest Fires on Human Health Living Around Orange County

Author: Ramesh SINGH

During summer and spring seasons, when weather is warm and dry, forest fires occur in different parts of the world. Orange County is close to Pacific Ocean in the west and occupies forest, snow/glaciers in the norther parts and the Mojave Desert in the eastern parts. The day to day weather conditions depend on the contrast between land and ocean temperature. Generally ocean temperature is cooler compared to land. Due to westerly and south-westerly winds, temperature of Orange County is cooler, in contrast we experience high temperature due to Santa Ana winds (easterly) which bring air mass from the Mojave Desert. If the temperature contrast between biomass of forest, soil moisture and atmospheric temperature is higher, during high winds forest fires occur that greatly destroy vegetation, agricultural crops, buildings and air quality (PM2.5, PM10, Ozone, CO, CO2) and microphysics of cloud properties. Forest fires around Orange County is very frequent and emissions coming from forest fires spread very fast affecting surrounding regions depending upon the wind speeds and direction. The air mass from the forest fire locations and Mojave Desert, highly influence the air quality, surface temperature, air temperature, and relative humidity, that favor the formation of smog, haze and fog in the Orange County. Such conditions greatly affect the human health and people suffer with asthma, eye irritations, breathing problems, and headache and with many kinds of health problem. Figure 1 shows monthly variations of air quality (particulate matter PM2.5 concentrations in µg/m3) and aerosol optical depth (AOD) (higher values of represents poor air quality and higher concentrations of atmospheric pollutants) over Orange County for the years 2012 and 2013. The air quality (PM2.5) is taken from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (http://www.arb.ca.gov/aqmis2/aqdselect.php) and AOD data is taken from NASA satellite through NASA Giovanni portal. We have studied daily variations of AOD and PM2.5 (µg/m3) for the years 2012 and 2013 over Orange County. High AOD and higher concentrations of particulate matter (PM2.5, µg/m3) were observed on some days. Higher AOD and high concentrations of PM2.5 could be associated with the forest fires, and air mass from desert areas located in the eastern side. On the days of high AOD and PM2.5 concentrations, greenhouse gas concentrations and high toxic gas concentrations could be highly affect human health of people living in Orange County. Greenhouse gas emissions and high toxic gas concentrations data are available through EPA and NASA Giovanni portal. Such greenhouse and toxic gases affect the health and people starts going to the hospital. We propose to use data related to patient admitted in the Orange County hospitals and patient suffering with different kinds of disease. We would like to evaluate a possible link with the people suffering with poor air quality, atmospheric pollutants and toxic gases or high air temperature and anomalous relative humidity, and their association with the patients admitted in the hospitals.

Co Author/Co-Investigator Names/Professional Title: Ramesh P. Singh, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Chapman University, Orange, CA 92866, USA