San Francisco’s Air Quality Currently in the Red

Today’s skies in San Francisco has an orange glow and the usual crisp fresh morning air is replaced with the smell of smoke. Indeed, all mobile phone weather apps, including The Weather Channel, reports an “unhealthy” air quality.

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The growing Camp Fire in Butte County has created a toxic haze of smoke that’s drifted across huge swaths of Northern California, pushing San Francisco’s air quality into dangerous regions.


The Environmental Protection Agency’s [EPA] AirNow site rates the level of potentially harmful particles in the air at 181 on Friday morning.

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For context, San Francisco usually enjoys some of the best air quality in America, with an Air Quality Index (AQI) rating below 50 most days. By comparison, perpetually smoggy Beijing’s AQI often hovers around 200 (although Friday morning they sit at just 57).

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Photo: SFGate


San Francisco’s current 181 is designated “unhealthy” for everyone in the region, and the EPA recommends some basic steps to minimize potential harm:

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and teens – take any of these steps to reduce your exposure:

– Avoid strenuous outdoor activities.

– Keep outdoor activities short.

– Consider moving physical activities indoors or rescheduling them.

– Everyone else—take any of these steps to reduce your exposure:

– Choose less strenuous activities (like walking instead of running) so you don’t breathe as hard.

– Shorten the amount of time you are active outdoors.

– Be active outdoors when air quality is better.


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AirNow predicts that hazard levels may diminish as the day goes on and drop down to the 120s, with “moderate” air quality (the second lowest level on the EPA scale) predicted for the next three or four days, although just like predicting the weather these forecasts may change.

The rest of the Bay Area is suffering similar effects, ranging from a low of “potentially unhealthy” in San Jose Friday morning (101 AQI) up to 189 in Santa Rosa.

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Oakland photo by Mercury News

Bay Area residents should keep doors and windows closed and minimize time outside, as fire conditions will likely persist for several more days.


Source: SF Curbed, SF Weekly

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