Air quality improves

Brown haze covers hills east of Morgan Hill on Aug.8.

Coastal breezes pushed dangerously hazy air to the east on Friday, Aug. 10, ending three days of poor air quality in the South County.

Dangerous air from northern and eastern wildfire continued to linger over the Central Valley, and Sierra foothill Friday evening.

The air quality in the South County had reached “unhealthy” levels on Thursday, Aug. 9, as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District extended an air quality advisory through Aug. 10 in the Bay Area, including Morgan Hill, Gilroy and northern San Benito County.

Starting Tuesday afternoon and worsening through Thursday afternoon, smoke impacts became more widespread and at ground level at times.  Active wildfires north of San Francisco and east of Sacramento, plus changing wind patterns, made likely that air quality throughout the Bay Area would be impacted into the weekend.

Morgan Hill, San Martin, Gilroy and Hollister the afternoon of Aug.9 began experiencing dangerously brown, hazy skies, the smoke impacts from the Mendocino Complex  Fire and other wildfires.

A regional Spare the Air Alert was called, because air quality exceeded federal standards. The Environmental Protection Agency is monitoring air quality every 20 minutes. Updates are posted at airnow.gov.

If the smell of smoke is present, it is important that Bay Area residents protect their health by avoiding exposure. If possible, stay inside with windows and doors closed until smoke levels subside. Set air-conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside.

Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, causing coughing, a scratchy throat and irritated sinuses. Elevated particulate matter in the air can trigger wheezing in those who suffer from asthma, emphysema or COPD.

Elderly persons, children and individuals with respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to elevated air pollution levels and should take extra precautions to avoid exposure.

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