Wednesday, October 24, 2007

So Cal Fires and Air Quality Effects / SF Climate Challenge

Fourteen large wildfires have developed spanning seven counties in California since Saturday, thanks to the Santa Ana winds, and the prevailing extreme drought conditions... I had been looking around the past couple of days for information on long-term air quality effects and pollution rehab after firestorms past and found some interesting stuff on Wunder Blog:

Air quality
Not surprisingly, air quality due to particulate matter has been awful in Southern California (Figure 1). Exceedances of the Federal air quality standards by more than a factor of two have occurred the past three days in both Los Angeles and San Diego. Hightened particulate pollution is strongly correlated with increased death rates, particulary in vulnerable populations, such as those with heart conditions, athsma, or other lung diseases. Everyone should avoid any outdoor exertion; people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should remain indoors. Keep your windows and doors closed unless it is extremely hot inside. In these cases, seek alternate shelter. Run your air conditioner if you have one. Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. EPA's Airnow website has more information.

Figure 1. Visible satellite images taken midday on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Overlaid on the images is the peak daily particle pollution Air Quality Index (AQI) levels due to smoke. Poor air quality became more widespread across the region as the number and size of the fires increased from day to day. Smoke is visible as white or bluish-white streaks. Blowing dust (brown streaks), reducing visibility under three miles, is also apparent on the images. Image credit: NASA and EPA."

As horrifying and post-apocalyptic as that all may sound, it also led me to find information about the San Francisco Climate Challenge, which I think is a fantastic resource for those interested in better understanding the
impact that our long-term choices concerning energy consumption can have on the planet. Although the cash prizes they are offering are for SF residents only-- we Southlanders can learn a lot from this initiative and perhaps establish one for LA. I expect there to be more info coming soon on this...

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