Bad air linked to drought

Stagnant, rainless conditions have trapped pollution near ground level

California air quality officials have linked the state’s ongoing drought to polluted winter air.

The number of days this winter that exceeded federal health guidelines for fine particulate matter increased by a third over last winter, according to the Los Angeles Times. While soot levels are typically higher in the winter, this year was worse due to the lack of rainfall, low winds and stagnant conditions that trapped pollution near ground level, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) said. For instance, the Bay Area logged 15 days of bad air from November through February, the highest number in seven years.

However, Karen Magliano, an assistant division chief at the CARB, said this year’s poor air quality is an exception amid a decade of steady improvement.