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Bay Area air worse again Monday

Rain later this week may bring relief

Smoke surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge.
Smoke surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge.
Photo by GaudiLab

The Bay Area’s now world-infamous air haze took a small turn for the better over the weekend but remained mired in the “unhealthy” category. However, Monday morning sees another increase in the toxicity of bad air

The latest Air Quality Index [AQI] score according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s AIRNow site is 174 in SF, once again well into the “unhealthy” range.

While this is better than last week’s 200-plus territory, it’s a worse score than around the same time Sunday and pretty much parallel with Saturday. Today’s forecast calls for much of the same all day long,

Many Bay Area schools remain closed this week due to the poor air quality.

Virtually the entire Bay Area can expect comparable conditions according to the same forecast. Within the “unhealthy” range of the spectrum, “People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion,” while “everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.”

Jason Mandly, Senior Planner for the Butte County Air Quality Management District, tells Curbed SF that the AQI scale was developed by doctors specifically to translate atmospheric conditions into easily referenced medical information.

Bay Area Air Quality Management District spokesperson Kristine Roselius says that for most healthy adults the effects of “unhealthy” air usually mean symptoms like “dry scratchy throat, watery itchy eyes, lung pain,” and headaches.

Last week, the commercial air quality monitor company AirVisual ranked San Francisco air as the worst in the world—alarming many locals—despite the fact that cities like Sacramento and Chico actually had much worse conditions at the time.

AirVisual spokesperson Yann Boquillod directed Curbed SF to a section of the AirVisual site explaining the rankings:

Currently, our Major Cities Ranking (or just ‘Ranking’, as seen on our app) is made up of around 80 major cities, although this may continue to grow as we receive requests to add additional locations.

Our website shows the top 10 on any given day, whilst using our air quality app you can scroll down and view the full list, ranked in order of hourly AQI. The current list has tried to focus on major cities with a population of >300,000 people, and which represent a wide range of countries to allow global contrast.

San Francisco had the dubious distinction of being the worst out of the 80 or so cities AirVisual ranks (we’ve since dropped down the list), but Northern California locales that had it worse simply weren’t on the list.

A spokesperson for AirVisual competitor PurpleAir confirmed much the same on Saturday, telling Curbed SF that “it looks like the outdoor sensors near Chico are reporting higher than in San Francisco” and that a variety of worse AQI figures dotted the map further inland from the bay.

Nevertheless, San Francisco’s current terrible air quality is some of the worst ever recorded in the region, breaking records last week and remaining a case for justifiable alarm now.