Smoky skies could return to San Francisco after clear day 

Soot particles from the fires raging in Northern and Central California may begin to fall on San Francisco and the Peninsula again today after the area saw relatively cleaner air-Wednesday, officials said.

Weather forecasters and air quality authorities said San Francisco and coastal residents shouldn’t open their windows just yet because in the next few days air quality can return to the highly polluted conditions they experienced Tuesday.

Stonger coastal winds on Wednesday helped disperse some of the haze from The City and the Peninsula, leaving San Francisco below the federal limits for particulate matter.

Other areas, including Benicia, Napa and San Jose, fared much worse, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

It issued a health advisory warning that air quality in Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda,Sonoma and Marin counties is forecast to reach unhealthy levels today.

"They are in direct path of the wind, but if the wind shifts, other parts of the Bay Area could be more impacted than they are now," said Lisa Fasano, spokeswoman for the district.

"They have the benefit of enjoying the breeze that pushes the smoke inland, but I would suspect that San Francisco could experience readings similar to Tuesday’s for the next day or two," said Dimitri Stanich, spokesman for the California Air Resources Board.

Today’s conditions are expected to be similar to what they were Wednesday — haze will be more notable in the morning, but as the winds pick up, it will not be as visible in lower altitudes, said Bob Benjamin, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

Soot particles from wildfires can get into people’s lungs and bloodstream, aggravating allergies, asthma and other lung conditions, authorities warned.

"People without chronic lung or heart conditions might experience some irritations, they might be coughing a little or have itching of the eyes," said Dr. Anand Chabra, a physician with San Mateo County Health Department. "We’re particularly concerned about people with asthma or those who have a heart disease or other illness that worsens by the stress on their lungs."

svasilyuk@sfexaminer.com

Safety tips

How to limit exposure to smoke

» Stay inside with doors and windows closed

» At home and while driving, put air conditioner on to recirculate the air

» Do not run swamp coolers or whole house fans

» Do not exercise outside

» Buy disposable particulate respirators found at hardware stores

Source: California Air Resources Board

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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