Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

State’s health screening tool changes for Lanare, Riverdale zip code

You can look up your zip code on the final version of the state’s new health screening tool to find out the risk of living wherever you live in California. And you will find it here.

I wrote about this in March for a story about West Fresno, which is ranked the most dangerous place anywhere in the state. The Bee links to the tool have been updated.

I noted at least one change. There are bound to be others.

The change I saw was in the 93656 zip code for Lanare and Riverdale in southwest Fresno County. In the previous version of the tool, the zip was ranked among the top 10% of the riskiest places to live. The new tool shows it is in the top 20%.

I noticed the score for the category on low birth weights had been lowered, meaning there was not as much risk as previously thought.

It may seem like a small change, but these rankings will be used to prioritize the spending of some money raised at cap-and-trade auctions.

Valley has briefly had Beijing-type siege

Beijing’s pollution this week was a lung-corroding 25 times worse than the federal threshold in the United States. Has the San Joaquin Valley ever seen levels that high?

Yes, but only for a few hours at a time once every few years. It happens after fireworks celebrations on the Fourth of July.

We’re talking about dangerous tiny particle pollution or PM-2.5. To explain the problem in China, it’s best use a quick comparison.

The U.S. standard is 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The U.S. Embassy has recently reported an astounding 886 micrograms in Beijing. Schools there kept children indoors. Hospitals saw a 20% jump in patients with respiratory problems.

Back to the San Joaquin Valley.

On July 4, 2007, in Bakersfield, a monitor recorded 1,000 micrograms between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. For the next two hours, it remained near that level.

That’s scary, considering medical researchers have long said the U.S. standard is too lenient at 35 micrograms.

What happens on the Fourth of July? The sky is showered with smoke and metals such as magnesium, copper and barium. The metals cause a range of problems, including skin irritations, muscle weakness and confusion in people with kidney problems. PM-2.5 is linked to lung and heart disease as well as early mortality.

But the Valley’s problem, which among the worst in the nation, bears little resemblance to the air emergency in China.