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Air Quality Concerns and Transit Update

Thanks to supercharged winds, air quality has been changing minute by minute. Image: PurpleAir at 11:30 am Monday

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

The Kincade fire in Sonoma and fires in Vallejo, Martinez and elsewhere are wrecking havoc with Bay Area air quality. It's changing moment by moment, with some sensors at PurpleAir and AirNow registering pristine air quality one minute, and bad pollution the next. As of the writing of this post, most of the air in San Francisco was listed as "acceptable" while air around Vallejo and Concord were reading unhealthy. The South Bay and Peninsula have good air quality now. And, of course, air quality in Sonoma is atrocious, at least in the fire-stricken areas.
All of which means people who are cycling to work or otherwise planning on spending a great deal of time outdoors have be careful. "The lung association is really advising people to stay up to speed on these volatile conditions," said Will Barrett, Director of Advocacy, Clean Air, for the American Lung Association in California. One thing he made clear, however--supplement what you find online with common sense. "If you see or smell smoke, you are being exposed to hazardous pollution and you should do everything you can to avoid being outside during those times."

Chart: American Lung Association
Chart: American Lung Association
Chart: American Lung Association

What about masks? If conditions seem smokey, and you have no choice but to ride, use a "N-95 or N-100 mask. Those can really help filter the particles," added Barrett. During last year's fires, David C. Ralston, with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, in an email to Streetsblog, wrote that masks "...should be certified with a stamp from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). A kerchief or a run-of-the-mill dust or surgical mask won’t do." And Ralph Borrmann, also of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, suggested keeping your exertion levels down–so if you absolutely have to ride, try to stay under 11 mph and avoid hills.


Meanwhile, BART is unaffected except for some escalator outages and other minor inconveniences caused by the PG&E power cuts.

SMART, on the other hand, is shut down for the moment, due to "...the Public Safety Power Shutdown impacts on local city traffic signal systems which cross SMART railroad tracks."

UPDATE Oct. 29: All SMART Trains are also cancelled today/Tuesday, Oct. 29.

And several Golden Gate Transit bus routes are cancelled, including the 72, 72X, 74 and 76. Other routes are truncated today. Be sure to check the website for updates.

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