WeatherFire Watch


Air quality experts say the sky looks worse than it actually is

Posted at 5:17 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 21:07:06-04

Central Coast residents continue to wake up to hazy skies, but air quality experts say the sky looks worse than it actually is.

"On my phone, the weather every day has said air quality is good, air quality moderate, but then when it gives the temperature it shows smokey so I didn't know what to pay attention to honestly,” said SLO resident Kathie Cammann.

According to air quality expert Meghan Field, although the sky may not look great due to wildfires burning across the state, regulatory monitors are still showing a good air quality index across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.

"That smoke is very aloft, so it's up high in the atmosphere and so while it's impacting the way things look that small particulate that we pick up on our regulatory monitor isn't being picked up right now," said Field.

With ash falling earlier this week, people continue to be concerned.

"I've seen little white specks of ash floating through the sky so I know it's not good, I really wonder if the masks are really stopping it," said Paul Giray.

Although air quality locally is listed as OK, experts say if people continue to see localized impacts due to the fires, they should avoid being outdoors.

"If they are smelling smoke, seeing ash falling, or experiencing any symptoms, just take precaution and head indoors," said Field.

Doctors say if people are concerned the best thing to do is to cover-up.

"Listen to our air quality experts. I know it's hard to believe but it isn't as bad as it looks, but that said the best thing you could do to protect yourself is to keep wearing the mask that hopefully, you are already wearing,” said Doctor Alicia Mikolaycik Kurtz.

If all of the ash from the California wildfires is keeping your car dusted, do not assume a simple car wash will take care of everything.

"If you're near the fire it's hot it could actually stain it and embed itself as well. You can find sometimes on a lighter color that ash stays on there," said Mainline Autobody General Manager Bernie Flamm. "If it's mixed with moisture you can find it will stain as well, but normally it will come off. It will clean off with the polishing or just washing it within a certain amount of time. I'd say within a half a day."

Flamm continues to say you should also make sure the ash is not clogging up your air filters. Flamm advises checking the air filter in your engine, and the filter for the cabin of your car.