SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Air quality in the Bay Area, particularly along the Peninsula, is the worst in the world Wednesday, as smoke from wildfires blows over the region.
The PurpleAir map below shows real-time air quality readings around the Bay Area. You can see the thick band of purple AQI readings along San Mateo County, from Millbrae and San Mateo, down into western Santa Clara County.
AQI (or Air Quality Index) readings from 101 to 150 are considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Readings between 151 and 200 are considered unhealthy for everyone, and anything above 200 is very unhealthy or hazardous.
The smoke is particularly bad in San Mateo County as the August Complex Fire continues to grow and blow off smoke toward the southeast. But the rest of the Bay Area is also starting to see unhealthy air quality levels, says ABC7 News Meteorologist Mike Nicco.
The South Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains and inland East Bay will be next to see heavy smoke, says Nicco. Further away from the Bay Area, Winters (Yolo County), Sacramento and Modesto will also see particularly smoky air.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed and other health officials gave an update on air quality in the city on Wednesday afternoon.
Mayor Breed said as of Wednesday afternoon, our air quality is on red, which means unhealthy. She urged all San Francisco residents to stay home if they can. “The best thing you can do is avoid exposure to outdoor air by staying indoors with the windows and doors closed.”
The city says, at this time, it is not planning on shutting down and COVID-19 testing sites due to air quality.
Health official Mary Ellen Carroll said, “Our response levels for poor air quality will vary depending on the amount or impact of smoke particles in the air. If the situation get worse, our response levels will increase.”
She says the city has already activated widespread public information and messaging through social media and emergency alert notifications. “We will continue to push out messaging to the public.”
She also said steps are being taken to help unhoused residents. “If the air quality in San Francisco remains unhealthy or gets worse, we are prepared to respond by protecting the most vulnerable” Carroll said the city will distribute personal protective equipment, including N-95 respirators, to the unhoused and outdoor city workers.
Carroll says the air quality index level has been fluctuating back and forth between orange and red. If the air quality hits purple, clean air centers will be set up, focusing in areas of highest need.
This poor air quality isn’t new to San Francisco. In 2018, following the Camp Fire, air quality was also severely impacted in the city.
There are fires burning in nearly all nine Bay Area counties. As of Wednesday morning, only San Francisco County was spared. See the latest information on all the fires here and stay with ABC7 News for updates.