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Smoke from wildfires prompts health caution

12 October 2017

"The pollution is so high it's comparable to high pollution days in China", says Lisa Fasano at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The alert is in effect until Wednesday.

Air pollution in Bay Area counties this week has been the worst since 1999 when officials began collecting data. Advisories are due to the North Bay wildfires still burning in Northern California.

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Wildfires raging throughout California's wine country have ravaged more than 170,000 acres and killed 21 people so far, with hundreds missing.

The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center tweeted a satellite image Wednesday afternoon showing smoke drifting across the region. Particle pollution can cause asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, aggravate lung disease and increase the chances of respiratory infections. People with heart or lung diseases should follow their doctor's advice for dealing with episodes of unhealthy air quality.

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Residents living dozens of miles from the fire zone, including San Francisco and San Jose, have complained about the smell of smoke since the fires broke out late Sunday night. Usually the Bay Area benefits from a natural air conditioning system with winds blowing in off the coast and carrying the air inland. Residents in Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties should try to stay inside buildings with air conditioning.

The district recommends parents and school administrators to check the air quality map provided by the Environmental Protection Agency before allowing children outdoors.

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The air district issued issued the Valley-wide alert because of the fine particles that are found in smoky skies.

Smoke from wildfires prompts health caution