Wildfire smoke from the northern California complex fires and other wildfires burning in the Northwest has degraded air quality in Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties. The concentration of smoke has reached levels of the Air Quality Index (AQI) as high as the UNHEALTHY (red) category in some areas of the region. Air quality will be variable and unpredictable as conditions change depending on wind and fire activity. Prevailing winds should shift westerly Thursday night and into Friday, increasing onshore flow which will bring a noticeable improvement to air quality in the region. The Monterey Bay Air Resources District (MBARD) will continue to follow the situation and issue advisories when appropriate.
MBARD monitors air quality in our region. Updates on the current air quality and information about the health effects of wildfire smoke can be found on the MBARD website at: https://www.mbard.org/wildfire-smoke-information-and-resources
If you are being impacted by smoke, consider these guidelines:
· If the concentration of smoke reaches UNHEALTHY levels of the AQI, residents should limit their activity by staying indoors with the doors and windows closed to avoid breathing smoke. You may want to check with your health care provider to make sure it’s not necessary for you to leave the area.
· Use common sense. If it looks smoky outside, it’s probably not a good time to go for a run. And it’s probably not a good time for your children to play outdoors.
· Help lower particle levels inside your home. When smoke levels are high, avoid using anything that burns, such as wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves – even candles. Don’t vacuum as that stirs up particles already inside your home. And don’t smoke. That puts even more pollution in your lungs, and in the lungs of people around you.
· We ask residents to avoid adding more pollution to the air by limiting activities such as wood burning, driving, lawn mowing, and leaf blowing.
Health Effects of Smoke:
Smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic matter burn. The biggest health threat from smoke comes from fine particles. These fine particles are especially harmful to the very young, very old, and to people with heart and lung disease. Further information about the health effects of wildfire smoke can be found on the EPA website: https://www.airnow.gov/wildfires.
Richard A. Stedman
Air Pollution Control Officer