Air quality in Bay Area decreases amid wildfires

Infographic showing daily Air Quality Index values in Alameda County, August 13 - September 12, 2020
Joseph Casey/Staff

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As wildfires continue to ravage California in what has become a record-breaking wildfire season, Bay Area air quality has decreased as a result.

The Air Quality Index, or AQI, reports daily air quality and functions on a scale from 0 to 500, according to AirNow. The AQI value increases as air pollution and associated health concern increase.

An AQI of up to 50 is considered good, as this poses little to no risk for the population. As the scale progresses from 51 to 100, the air quality is acceptable with potential risks for people who are sensitive to air pollution, according to AirNow. 

Beyond this threshold, an AQI is considered unhealthy with an increasing degree of risk on the general public. Once at a value of 301 or higher, the air quality becomes hazardous, as everyone is more likely to be affected, according to AirNow.

In mid-August, Alameda County experienced a fluctuating AQI with levels climbing in September and reaching a peak value of 218 Sept. 11, according to air data from the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Maxine Mouly is a deputy news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @moulymaxine.