The Bay Area’s Current Air Quality Status

On December 5, the Air Quality Management District issued a Spare the Air Alert to the public due to heavy clouds of smoke enveloping the Bay Area. Official reports have noted that bad air conditions have begun polluting the state since Friday and continue to pose health threats to people on Saturday.

Due to the AQMD raising the alert since last week, locals and businesses are not allowed to do flame-inducing activities like using pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits, fireplaces, or any other wood-burning appliances to prevent the Bay Area from experiencing more contaminated quality. 

According to the management district’s representative Aaron Richardson, the bad air conditions currently experienced in the state originated from the Bay Area’s build-up of fine particle pollution. The previously mentioned phenomenon is usual during the region’s typical wintertime season. People often use wood-burning fireplaces to warm themselves up due to the cold temperatures but pumps toxic smoke into the air as a result. That increases the smogginess within the vicinity, putting residents at higher risks of obtaining illnesses like coughs and colds. 

Richardson reported that in the Bay Area, there are a total of1.4 million wood stoves and fireplaces frequently used by locals during the district’s winter season. As a result, the smoke gathered from the fire-inducing tools increases thin particle contamination during wintertime, with the fire devices becoming the number one cause for such an occurrence.

Additionally, the fine particulate circulates and gets trapped within the state. Based on recorded accounts, additional polluted air gets propelled from the San Joaquin Valley toward the waterfronts by light offshore winds, coupled with Bay Area’s typically calm conditions and lower temperatures. 

The Air Quality Index and Future Air Quality Forecasts for the Bay Area

Experts use the Air Quality Index, a color-coded machine that measures the quality of air on a scale from 0-500 to determine the concentration of contamination in the region’s air. Substantial risks of health complications and higher air pollution levels may become indicated by higher AQI measurement values. For instance, 300 and above is dark purple and signifies dangerous conditions. Over 200 is purple and hints at very unhealthy air states, while 150 and more is detrimental and is red. An AQI value of 50 or below emphasizes adequate air quality and is colored green.

Thin particle contamination concentrations on Friday got recorded as a bit higher than the predicted levels as deduced by professionals. According to the management district, the air status conditions across several of the region’s areas fall into the orange category that indicates a label of “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” which lasted for a few hours.

On Saturday, Richardson revealed the forecasters’ prediction for that day’s air conditions. The latter speculated some parts in the Bay Area would encounter air quality that falls under the orange indicator, signaling the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” category. That forecast is also accurate for the Santa Clara Valley and northern portions of the Bay Area.

Forecasters expect improvements in the air conditions by Sunday due to winds coming from the north of the Bay Area, helping bring clean air across the state and cleanse the polluted remains by the start of the week. However, experts still cautioned the public to remain vigilant as they would closely monitor Saturday’s models, making sure that Sunday would experience better air quality. Red markings and an “unhealthy” label covered the entirety of the Bay Area’s map on Friday. 

For accurate and smooth air-quality readings, people often visit the Purple Air website for additional information and updates.

The Environmental Protection Agency usually gives its readings to the Bay Area Quality Management District to broadcast to the public. Moreover, Purple Air offers higher air quality interpretations than the EPA.