San Francisco's Director of Emergency Management, Mary Ellen Carroll, warns city residents to stay inside to avoid smoke from Northern California wildfires.

S.F. Officials Warn Residents to Stay In to Avoid Smoke, May Open Respite Centers

City officials advised San Francisco residents to stay indoors wherever possible with the windows shut to protect against smoke from wildfires that has blanketed the region. On Wednesday afternoon, air quality was designated as unhealthy, though it has fluctuated. If smoke pollution deteriorates air quality to “very unhealthy,” the city will open respite centers, officials said in a press conference.

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As Fire Season Approaches, COVID-19 Strains Mask Supplies

The last few years’ fires are all blurring into one for Jessica Tovar, an Oakland resident and advocate at the nonprofit Local Clean Energy Alliance, a renewable energy advocacy group. “I had an office that you could see the port of Oakland from, and in those times, you could not see the port because the smoke was so thick,” she said. Oakland was among the worst-hit cities when smoke from the 2017 Tubbs wildfires spread to the areas around San Francisco Bay, lowering air quality to levels comparable to Beijing, some of the worst in the world. As California’s fall wildfire season approaches, mask shortages mean Oakland residents are at risk of exposure to both coronavirus and to toxic smoke. Tovar, who frequently interacts with underserved Oakland residents, echoed the concerns of advocacy organizations that distribute masks.

A map created by Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai to show where elevated levels of four elements were detected in residents, resulting from a community health biomonitoring survey. Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai.

Bayview Residents Sound Alarm Over Potential Dust From Toxic Site

San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood has been hit especially hard by COVID-19, and residents sheltering in place in the area have for years faced elevated levels of air pollution from a variety of nearby sources. Recently, advocates have raised concerns about potentially toxic dust they fear is being generated by a nearby construction project.

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Journalist Discusses Reporting on Local Governments’ Slow Response to Sea Level Rise

Public Press Executive Director Michael Stoll talks with journalist Kevin Stark about Stark’s reporting that showed how local governments were slow in responding to the predicted effects of sea level rise on the Bay Area waterfront. “So I think the scientists were hesitant to get out and say you shouldn’t be building, but what they were saying is that you should be planning for the future in a way that recognizes that the water is going to rise, and you need to either learn to live with it, or you’re going to regret it.” — Journalist Kevin Stark

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Discussion Forum Host Wants More Talk, More Action on Climate Change

Greg Dalton, founder and host of Climate One, talks with Civic about facilitating productive conversations about the environment and climate change. Plus, a quick look at sea level rise on the San Francisco waterfront. “The lack of action on climate is not because of dearth of facts, there’s enough books and podcasts and radio shows and peer-reviewed journal articles. … there’s denial, many forms of denial.” — Greg Dalton