Oceano and the area designated as CDF/Mesa 2 zone in Nipomo, which includes Highway 1 between Callender Road and Calle Bendita, are places with a long history of air pollution concerns.
“[They] regularly see more particulate matter in their air, so we wanted to target those areas so they can clean their indoor air pollution when air pollution outside is typically higher,” explained Meghan Field, San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District Public Information Officer.
These are high-priority zones that will have access to 600 free air purifiers that will be distributed in April and May by the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District.
“We wanted to pick an area that was impacted by the blowing dust, wildfire smoke, and is typically an area underserved in our county,” Field added.
Focusing on Oceano, U.S. Census data shows that 45% of the population is Hispanic and 45% white, which is why spreading the word about these purifiers will be done in both English and Spanish.
“We’ve partnered with Center for Family Strengthening, their Promotores Collaborative [also known as community trusted messengers] to try to get the message out about this program to our Spanish-speaking community,” Field said.
It is common for residents to have to stay indoors when conditions are unhealthy.
“We hear reports of people that have allergies or have exacerbating preexisting lung conditions, but asthma seems to be a regular complaint,” Field said.
To receive a purifier, the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District has some requirements.
“One purifier per home. People will need to qualify for that,” Field explained. “We won’t be retaining any information, but people will need to prove that they live in one of those areas and they’ll need to show income eligibility.”
A couple of examples are income taxes or participation in low-income programs such as WIC, SNAP or Section 8 housing.
“Latinos have to be informed and educated that these are there provided free of cost because sometimes they can’t afford it,” said Allene Villa, Oceano Community Services District Director.
At the distribution events, there will be workshops at which people can learn how to use an air purifier, where it should be placed and general tips on how to keep clean air inside your home.
The first of two pop-up events will take place on April 30, 2022, at 9 a.m., and the second on May 3, 2022, at 4:30 p.m. Both will be at the Oceano Community Services District located at 1655 Front Street in Oceano.