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The air quality

Paris, France
2 posts
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The air quality
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Is it true the air can be really bad for your lungs in Lone Pine sometimes. Salt from the salt beds?

6 replies to this topic
San Francisco...
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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1. Re: The air quality
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Lone Pine is next to Owens Dry Lakebed, which was once a real, navigable lake until the river that fed it was diverted to supply the Los Angeles Aqueduct in the early 20th c. The lakebed is now mostly dry, with some water from the Owens River still allowed to flow into it - but that took court orders after lawsuits from Lone Pine and other local communities.

The lakebed is mostly alkaline salts, which are now harvested for industrial uses. But when the wind picks up, it often raises large amounts of the dust and carries it around the southern Owens Valley, which includes Lone Pine, Independence, and Keeler. This has been shown to have some respiratory hazards, but mostly for residents or people who spend a lot of time there.

What is your interest in Lone Pine? If you're going as a tourist, maybe as part of a Death Valley trip or Mt. Whitney climb, it shouldn't be a big concern.

I'll look up some of the air quality info and legal stuff when I have a few minutes and post it.

Paris, France
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Wow thanks for the quick response. Going to be working at one of the hospitals for a short stint to help out. Will be living in Lone Pine or close by. I have asthma and dont know if it will be bad for me. If I should rethink this short term gig. Thanks for the input.

Tacoma, Washington
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3. Re: The air quality
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Another issue is in play--during wildfire season you can also get poor air quality.

a few years ago i was in Lake tahoe area during one of Yosemite wildfires. In Reno because of smoke from that and other fires it was a foggy haze in the air and the sun was red

California overall is very dry from May-September . The rainy season is roughly Dec-March. Air quality overall gets bad because of no rain in the summer.

San Diego...
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4. Re: The air quality
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>>Going to be working at one of the hospitals for a short stint to help out. Will be living in Lone Pine or close by. I have asthma and dont know if it will be bad for me.<<

Maybe reach out to a medical provider affiliated with the hospital and ask them about it?

San Francisco...
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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Hi, Carmen, we’re glad to hear you’ll be helping out, but when will this be? Are you a traveling nurse or locus tenem doctor, and are you really coming from Paris to California specifically to help with the COVID workload? Lone Pine has two major medical facilities: Southern Inyo Hospital and Toiyabe Indian Health Center (tribal ownership but serves anyone). SIH is a small hospital with about 25 beds, and limited emergency and acute care. TIHC is an outpatient clinic with health/wellness, dialysis, dental, and optometry services. There are also hospitals in Bishop and Ridgecrest, so be sure which one you will be at.

https://www.sihd.org/

https://www.toiyabe.us/

Not being a health professional, I’d also suggest contacting a clinical director where you’ll be working to ask for advice. Lone Pine actually has good air quality when it’s good; it’s when the winds pick up and the dust goes airborne that it’s an issue. I don’t know how much more risk there is from COVID, maybe compounded with air quality issues, to people with asthma. It’s getting warmer now, so if it makes you feel better, just about all indoor places in Lone Pine have air conditioning, so if you need or prefer to avoid outdoor air, you can be comfortable inside.

Do you know yet where you would stay? No one likes to commute, and Lone Pine is small so most of the main parts of town are within walking distance. However, if you will have a car and don’t mind a 45-minute one-way commute (a beautiful ride with no traffic), the next “large” town is Bishop, to the north, which is farther from Owens Lakebed and closer to the mountains; the negative side is that it is a busier place with more people and traffic so it won’t be as peaceful as Lone Pine.

There is quite a bit of literature floating around about the impacts to Owens Valley air quality, and the back-story is interesting. It started in the early 20th c. when the Los Angeles Aqueduct project began, with city agents surveying the Eastern Sierra Nevada from Mammoth Lakes to Lone Pine for water sources to feed the insatiable metropolis in the making. Posing as private land buyers, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power managers bought up land and water rights to ensure unhindered access to Owens River water, which became the main source for the first L.A. Aqueduct. The water once supported hundreds of family farms and ranches and local merchants and other businesses, and the economy and established social structure of the region was devastated by the loss. Because of those land acquisitions in the early 1910s, the LADWP is now the largest landlord in the Eastern Sierra other than the U.S. government (national forests, national parks, and other federally owned land, much of which is open for public recreation and other uses).

Because the Owens River was the only source for Owens Lake, the lake, where small steamboats once ran, gradually shriveled into a desert marsh. It has never been totally dry, but the surface became mostly mineral salts. The area has a lot of mineral deposits of all kinds, and since the river terminates there and has no outlet to the sea, all solids remain in the lakebed. Several refineries along the shore now harvest and process those for various industrial uses. The city of Los Angeles is under court mandate, after lawsuits from Owens Valley communities like Lone Pine, to mitigate the air quality problems, without which they would be worse (the city even went to court to get out of complying, but that didn’t fly and the little towns kept the small gains they had won).

Here is some of the literature over the past few years. Keep in mind that conditions today, after some years of forcing Los Angeles to mitigate the hazards, are different from what they were a few years ago.

https://geochange.er.usgs.gov/sw/impacts/geology/owens/

http://www.owenslakeproject.com/

https://www.nap.edu/read/25658/chapter/3

https://thesheetnews.com/2013/05/02/federal-court-ends-ladwp-lawsuit-in-owens-lake-case/

One of the more recent articles:

https://laist.com/latest/post/20200227/owens_lake_dustbowl_pollution_LADWP_control

San Francisco...
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6. Re: The air quality
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So are you coming to Lone Pine?

if you decide you can, it's a beautiful area, and if you get any time off, the nearby Alabama Hills, Mt. Whitney, and other natural areas are well worth seeing. Even Death Valley (best enjoyed if you can stay over one night). And if you want to experience a "Main Street U.S.A." sort of town, with a quaint downtown with some older buildings, mostly locally owned small businesses, and very few franchise and chain stores or other things you can see in 10,000 other American towns, Lone Pine is ideal.

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