Air Quality a Concern as Smoke Drifts from Nearby Wildfires

Ebony Scott
October 13, 2017

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District said the unhealthy air quality is moving down to Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

Air Quality and Public Health officials in Shasta and Tehama Counties are advising all residents to limit outdoor activities due to the presence of wildfire smoke.

Continuing wind and wildfires today may cause residents to experience trouble breathing, coughing, headaches and chest pain.

Several Bay Area professional sports teams, including the Golden State Warriors and both local pro football and baseball teams, have combined to donate $450,000 in support of North Bay wildfire relief efforts. "PM2.5 is so small, about 1/30 the width of a human hair, that it can penetrate deep into the lungs". Anyone being exposed to poor air quality or wildfire smoke should move inside to an air-conditioned environment. Windows and doors should be kept closed. Paper masks are created to trap large particles, such as sawdust, and will not protect your lungs from small particles such as PM2.5. "They exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), emphysema and other conditions, because they are very harmful".

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"We're going to see a really strong settling of the smoke in the Bay Area on Friday and Saturday", said Brian Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. You can look up your zip code here, and find a 5-day forecast here.

The following spots in San Francisco will provide you with filtered air. At the Markus Supply Ace Hardware store in Oakland, N95 masks are flying off the shelves. Unfortunately neither a hospital mask or a bandanna tied over the face prevents noxious air from entering the lungs, and to make much of a difference, even N-95 masks must fit well.

Call your doctor if you have particular concerns about your own health or that of a family member.

"If we get the winds it will help push the air quality out of the region", said Fasano. Outside of the active fire areas, air quality will be variable and unpredictable.

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