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The Air Quality Health Crisis from the California Wildfires

The Air Quality Health Crisis from the California Wildfires

The smoke from the California wildfires near Paradise, CA is producing the greatest air quality health crisis in the modern history of California.   Schools, universities, and sports events are being cancelled.
Although the terrible loss of life directly caused by wildfires in and near Paradise should not be minimized in any way, the health impacts of smoke will be profound, with millions of people being exposed to high concentrations of wood smoke.  Hospitalizations will surely increase and some increase mortality of vulnerable populations should be expected.

MODIS satellite imagery on Thursday at noon.  Dense smoke filled the central valley of CA and moved directly over the Bay Area.

For me, it is also personal.  My son, a healthy young man of 28 living in San Francisco, is greatly feeling that smoke as is his similarly aged co-workers and friends.  If young, healthy individuals are being sickened, can you image the impacts of those that are vulnerable?

The current air quality conditions around the Bay area are pretty extreme (see below), with much of San Francisco and neighboring areas in the very unhealthy range (200-300).   Looking at data around the world, it appears that San Francisco now has worse air quality than any major metropolitan area in the world, worse than even Beijing and Mumbai.

But what really stands out is the longevity of this poor air quality event– extending 7-9 days now for many central CA locations.    From my perusal of the air quality data of the Bay Area Air Quality Agency and other sources, this event is unprecedented in the 20 year period of data available.

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