It wasn’t good news for San Joaquin County recently, with a failing grade when it comes to clean air.
Representative Josh Harder has responded to San Joaquin County receiving an ‘F’ grade in the American Lung Association’s new 2022 State of the Air report. The report gave the county an ‘F’ for Ozone, an ‘F’ for particle pollution in a 24-hour period, and a failing grade for particle pollution annually. The report also indicates that 13,971 kids and 52,942 adults in San Joaquin County are at risk of developing asthma. This issue is personal to Rep. Harder, who along with his brother suffered childhood asthma growing up in the Central Valley.
“I grew up with childhood asthma and know what’s it’s like to worry more about your inhaler than your homework. It’s unacceptable to know that something I suffered from as a kid has gotten worse instead of better in our Valley,” said Rep. Harder. “Letting our air get this bad is a total failure and I refuse to let my daughter grow up breathing worse air than I did.”
Additionally, the report indicates that San Joaquin County has experienced an increase in dangerous “high particle days” every year since 2014, culminating in a record 25 high particle days in 2020.
Also, Harder on May 2 co-led the introduction of a resolution to declare this week Wildfire Preparedness Week. This effort, also reflected in declarations from Cal Fire and its partners, will be dedicated to educating the public on fire safety and preparedness.
Scientific American recently called California’s upcoming wildfire season “cataclysmic” and “a recipe for disaster.” Last year wildfires burned more than three million acres in the state, nearly a total land mass the size of Connecticut. This was the second highest total burn in state history, only beaten by the previous year, 2020.
“The threat of wildfires and the smoke they create is existential here in our community. This is about the health and safety of our kids, our neighborhoods, and our economy,” said Harder on Monday. “So today I’m proud to introduce a resolution declaring this week Wildfire Preparedness Week so everyone knows how to prevent these fires from happening and stay safe if God forbid there’s an emergency.”
This continues ongoing efforts to protect the Central Valley from the deadly threat of wildfires and the smoke they create. Harder has successfully pushed President Biden to raise firefighter pay, introduced legislation to immediately address the wildfire emergency in California, and held a roundtable with local chiefs to discuss wildfire fighting and prevention. In late April, Harder urged his colleagues to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill in order to deliver a historic $3.4 billion in new funding to fight wildfires.