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Air quality alert for Santa Maria area

Air quality control officials in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties say strong winds are whipping up some unhealthy air over the Nipomo Mesa and Santa Maria areas.

Blowing sand and dust are the problem with the peak periods expected in the afternoon and evening. An Air Quality Watch is in effect through Wednesday morning for northern Santa Barbara County.

Schools and after-school programs should keep students indoors during the worst of it. People with heart or lung disease—including asthma—older adults, and young children should limit time spent outdoors and avoid exercise during the peak periods.