Air quality refers to the condition of the air around us; how clean it is and how many pollutants (harmful chemicals or substances) it contains. Understanding the air quality is fundamental to our health and well-being, as poor air quality can adversely affect vulnerable people with pre-existing medical conditions, the youth, and older adults. It is with this understanding that Morongo’s Tribal Air Program continuously strives to provide awareness and understanding to all air quality related matters through outreach and educational activities while fostering collaborative relationships throughout Morongo’s community.
Outdoor Air Quality
One of Morongo Tribal Air Program’s (TAP) objectives is to collect legally defensible air quality data that can be used to assist the Tribe in making rational decisions, educate the community, and further protect the environment.
The Air Monitoring Station measures Morongo Reservation’s ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air. These are three of EPA’s six criteria pollutants which are known air pollutants that cause harm to human health and the environment. The TAP also gathers meteorological data at three weather stations within the Reservation. Morongo’s Air Program has the capability to establish a mobilized monitoring station that can gather PM and weather data during emergencies or for air quality studies.
The Tribal Air Program established and helps maintain Morongo’s School Air Quality Flag Program. This program works alongside the Tribal students, who change a colored flag to correspond to the forecasted daily air quality. These colored flags alert students, school faculty, tribal members, tribal employees and visitors when the air becomes unhealthy so they may adjust their outdoor activities or move indoors.
Morongo Air Program also administers the Clean Air Act operating permits at the Casino’s Cogeneration Facility, ensuring compliance with federal and tribal regulations. This relationship allows the Tribe, not an outside agency, to monitor and report the emissions of the Cogeneration Facility so that it runs efficiently and cleanly.
Indoor Air Quality
The Tribal Air Program also strives to help the Morongo Community to breathe easier indoors. The TAP hosts several workshops throughout the year that give Tribal Members the opportunity to learn more about healthy indoor air quality. Additionally, indoor air quality assessments are offered to tribal residents and employees to measure pollutants such as mold, carbon monoxide, and lead, at no charge. The Tribal Air Program has also teamed up with the Morongo schools and Facility Maintenance team to implement the EPA “Tools for Schools Program” at Morongo School campuses. This indoor air quality program works to assure that the students will be learning in a healthy indoor air environment.
Be Smoke Ready
The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles, which can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems and can also aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases. Prepare for wildfire season by stocking up on supplies to reduce the need to go out into the smoke, create a clean room with few windows/doors, and buy or make a portable air cleaner. During a wildfire check public health warnings, stay inside with doors and windows closed, and do not add indoor air pollution with candles, gas, propane, etc. If you must go outside, consider protecting yourself by using a filtered mask such as an N95 respirator.
It is important to know how you will get public health warnings, including air quality reports and public service announcements. To see the current and forecasted Air Quality Index (AQI) in your area visit www.airnow.gov or download the AirNow App. South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has detailed alerts and specific effected area information at www.aqmd.gov. For current air quality information specific to Morongo, check out morongoair.com. Finally, like and follow the Morongo Environmental Protection Department on Facebook @MorongoEPD and Instagram @morongoepd for air quality alerts. Resources: Are you Smoke Ready brochure; DIY Box Fan Filter flyer; DIY Box Fan Filter YouTube video; EPA Wildfire Smoke Factsheets.
Air Quality Index
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is EPA’s index for reporting air quality. It is divided into six, color-coded categories with each color corresponding to a different level of health concern. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern! The AQI allows people to take action to limit their health risks when air pollution reaches unhealthy levels. The Morongo Tribal Air program posts AQI forecasts here or community members can see the AQI in real time by visiting www.MorongoAir.com.
The Morongo Community Air Monitoring Project created a low-cost sensor network on the Morongo Reservation which reports real-time pollutant levels for ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and volatile organic compounds. This project was funded through the California Air Resources Board Community Air Monitoring Grant Program (AB 617). In addition, the Tribal Air Program maintains Purple Air particulate matter sensors. View live air monitoring data at morongoair.com! View Purple Air sensor data around the Morongo Reservation at map.purpleair.com
The Tribal Air Program oversees Clean Air Act Operating Permit compliance for tribally-owned entities.