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2020 NorCal Fire Thread

Old 09-12-20, 09:34 PM
  #126  
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wgscott so sorry to hear about your house....
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Old 09-12-20, 09:34 PM
  #127  
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Originally Posted by sfrider View Post
I don't know about that map. I rode down the coast from SF to Pescadero and over Alpine Rd/Page Mill to Palo Alto today, and apart from tons of fog I couldn't discern any smoke anywhere along the way. There was a lot of haze coming up Alpine Rd when looking out over the mountains, but I couldn't really smell anything. I don't know where they get their data from, but it doesn't look particularly good. Zero irritation.

It was really a very nice day!
Well, you know, after smelling smoke constantly for the last 3 weeks, I don't think I'd trust my nose over scientific instruments. It's pretty obviously smoky out there. That's what the haze is.
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Old 09-12-20, 10:24 PM
  #128  
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Originally Posted by sfrider View Post
wgscott so sorry to hear about your house....
Thanks, but ... it is intact. (We thought it was gone for about 10 days.). Most of the area I live in is a disaster.
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Old 09-13-20, 09:18 AM
  #129  
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I'm wondering if anyone, other than myself, is suffering from "air quality fatigue". I'm not talking about the possible health affects from riding a bicycle in bad quality air. I'm talking about the fatigue of being bombarded by "experts" basically telling me not to go outside at all. Here's one:

https://www.ktvu.com/news/avoid-outd...gh-the-weekend

The headline reads "Avoid outdoor activity, unhealthy air quality to last through the weekend"

Here's an excerpt:

Experts say you don't want to breathe these pollutants in, especially people with heart and lung disease, older adults, kids and teens.

You should avoid or limit outdoor time if you can. The particulate matter is extremely dangerous because if you breathe it deeply into your respiratory system, it can enter the bloodstream and cause a variety of health problems, said Richardson.


The "expert" referred to as "Richardson" is Aaron Richardson with Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The qualifications of Mr. Richardson are not disclosed, although it appears he is not a medical doctor as there is no "Dr." in front of his name. I'm an "older adult" and Mr. Richardon is telling me if I go outside, I will have "dangerous particulate matter" entering my bloodstream and suffer from a "variety of health problems", none of which he discloses. Holy crap, I better not leave the house.

I've been riding for 2 hours every day since the fires started, no exceptions. Sometimes I'll put on my N95 mask if it looks really bad, and sometimes I'll take it off when I can't get enough air climbing up hills. I have felt no ill effects, other than a runny nose, but only when wearing the N95 mask. The "experts" are apparently divided as to whether occasional, short-term exposure to the levels of air quality we have will result in any long-term damage. Some say as long as it's occasional and short-term exposure, and you have no other health issue, it's fine. Others like Mr. Richardson say don't leave the house. I have yet to see a scientific study that answers the question. I'm not talking about just another opinion of some "expert". I'd like to see a scientific study that answers the question. If anyone knows of one, please share.
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Old 09-13-20, 09:27 AM
  #130  
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Well, I've been out taking care of some home projects wearing a cloth mask. Feeling congested this morning. I can't see the benefit of pushing a lot of this air through my lungs. Maybe this will help keep people home and away from other problems going on.
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Old 09-13-20, 11:03 AM
  #131  
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Originally Posted by ztmlgr View Post
I'm wondering if anyone, other than myself, is suffering from "air quality fatigue". I'm not talking about the possible health affects from riding a bicycle in bad quality air. I'm talking about the fatigue of being bombarded by "experts" basically telling me not to go outside at all. Here's one:

https://www.ktvu.com/news/avoid-outd...gh-the-weekend

The headline reads "Avoid outdoor activity, unhealthy air quality to last through the weekend"

Here's an excerpt:

Experts say you don't want to breathe these pollutants in, especially people with heart and lung disease, older adults, kids and teens.

You should avoid or limit outdoor time if you can. The particulate matter is extremely dangerous because if you breathe it deeply into your respiratory system, it can enter the bloodstream and cause a variety of health problems, said Richardson.


The "expert" referred to as "Richardson" is Aaron Richardson with Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The qualifications of Mr. Richardson are not disclosed, although it appears he is not a medical doctor as there is no "Dr." in front of his name. I'm an "older adult" and Mr. Richardon is telling me if I go outside, I will have "dangerous particulate matter" entering my bloodstream and suffer from a "variety of health problems", none of which he discloses. Holy crap, I better not leave the house.

I've been riding for 2 hours every day since the fires started, no exceptions. Sometimes I'll put on my N95 mask if it looks really bad, and sometimes I'll take it off when I can't get enough air climbing up hills. I have felt no ill effects, other than a runny nose, but only when wearing the N95 mask. The "experts" are apparently divided as to whether occasional, short-term exposure to the levels of air quality we have will result in any long-term damage. Some say as long as it's occasional and short-term exposure, and you have no other health issue, it's fine. Others like Mr. Richardson say don't leave the house. I have yet to see a scientific study that answers the question. I'm not talking about just another opinion of some "expert". I'd like to see a scientific study that answers the question. If anyone knows of one, please share.
I think we as individuals have to do what we're most comfortable with. I know what kind of exposure I can personally take before I feel the short term effects. Even yesterday, I didn't go "outside" other than to run a few errands. And still, by the end of the day when I got on the trainer, I could tell my deep breathing was affected. And of course you're never going to know about any long term effects after riding in smoke for a few weeks. The tiny PM2.5 particles that make up the AQI everyone uses are specifically bad for you because they are so small and get deep into your lungs. You may or may not feel anything immediately from inhaling these particles. Again, for me, since the problem the past few days has been the ash, those are larger particles, and I can feel the bad effects more readily, probably because these larger particles are getting trapped and expelled more quickly by the body.

All that to say I have no scientific answer, or point to a scientific study, but I take all the advice and "expert" opinions, and weigh everything to make my own decision. I'm not totally staying indoors, avoiding ANY outdoor exposure, but I'm not going to go for a ride, even with a mask. The problems outweigh the benefits, as far as I'm concerned. So far, it's been less than a week that I've been unable to go out, so I'm not at a point where it's "no F*s given". I may get to that point, but I'd rather keep doing what I'm doing, and not risk my long term health for the unknown...

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Old 09-13-20, 11:11 AM
  #132  
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Originally Posted by ztmlgr View Post
I'm wondering if anyone, other than myself, is suffering from "air quality fatigue". I'm not talking about the possible health affects from riding a bicycle in bad quality air. I'm talking about the fatigue of being bombarded by "experts" basically telling me not to go outside at all. Here's one:

https://www.ktvu.com/news/avoid-outd...gh-the-weekend

The headline reads "Avoid outdoor activity, unhealthy air quality to last through the weekend"

Here's an excerpt:

Experts say you don't want to breathe these pollutants in, especially people with heart and lung disease, older adults, kids and teens.

You should avoid or limit outdoor time if you can. The particulate matter is extremely dangerous because if you breathe it deeply into your respiratory system, it can enter the bloodstream and cause a variety of health problems, said Richardson.


The "expert" referred to as "Richardson" is Aaron Richardson with Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The qualifications of Mr. Richardson are not disclosed, although it appears he is not a medical doctor as there is no "Dr." in front of his name. I'm an "older adult" and Mr. Richardon is telling me if I go outside, I will have "dangerous particulate matter" entering my bloodstream and suffer from a "variety of health problems", none of which he discloses. Holy crap, I better not leave the house.

I've been riding for 2 hours every day since the fires started, no exceptions. Sometimes I'll put on my N95 mask if it looks really bad, and sometimes I'll take it off when I can't get enough air climbing up hills. I have felt no ill effects, other than a runny nose, but only when wearing the N95 mask. The "experts" are apparently divided as to whether occasional, short-term exposure to the levels of air quality we have will result in any long-term damage. Some say as long as it's occasional and short-term exposure, and you have no other health issue, it's fine. Others like Mr. Richardson say don't leave the house. I have yet to see a scientific study that answers the question. I'm not talking about just another opinion of some "expert". I'd like to see a scientific study that answers the question. If anyone knows of one, please share.
You live in a time when all of that information is at your fingertips. Google "Pubmed". Go there. Type "Wildfire Smoke" in the search window, and you'll get almost 300 results. You can read the abstracts from almost all of them, and a large percentage have free full text.

Here, I've saved you the trouble of the first part.

It seems like the problem with most studies in this area is that there are too many confounding variables to see much of a signal beyond the most sensitive groups. It definitely exacerbates pre-existing asthma, and that's pretty easy to see. Other results are mixed, because the signal's harder to definitively see in the noise. Doesn't mean it's not there, it just means it's more subtle. You might be doing some damage that might or might not heal.

Lay people always want scientists to give hard-and-fast answers, which science doesn't usually provide. Then there's the newsmedia, which tries to provide the hard-and-fast answers, and sell papers/airtime, and thus tends to go with the most definitive-sounding answers. Nobody can honestly tell you that, if you don't have asthma or some other preexisting respiratory condition, riding at an AQI between 90 and 160 will have an effect or not. That's where the whole Bay Area is right now - "Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects if they are exposed for 24 hours. The general public is not likely to be affected", which really puts the ball back in your court - where it always was.You want to see a study that answers the question. There isn't one.

There's a tendency to frustration with experts, to say that if they can't provide the definitive answers you want that "they don't know anything". But that's nonsensical. They know way more than you or I. It's just that there IS NO definitive answer and you're left having to figure out how to respond.

I think there is a certain amount of hazard fatigue that sets in. Yesterday when the AQI numbers dropped from >150 to <120, we actually opened up the house for a while because it was too warm. A week ago, we would have sat in the hot house and suffered. A week ago, I took my dog for a walk when the AQI was 75, but it rapidly rose to 160 while we were out. I felt bad exposing my dog to that. Yesterday, we went out for a walk when the AQI was 160. Right now I'm thinking about riding despite the AQI being between 90 and 120 everywhere I'd be riding, which I'd not even have considered last week.
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Old 09-13-20, 11:54 AM
  #133  
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You should avoid or limit outdoor time if you can. The particulate matter is extremely dangerous because if you breathe it deeply into your respiratory system, it can enter the bloodstream and cause a variety of health problems, said Richardson.
Poor air quality, much like smoking cigarettes, is something that's likely to present long term health problems, even if short term issues are tolerable. So yeah exposure to second hand smoke once in a while is no big deal. The BAAQMD is is tasked with monitoring and controlling air quality, so it may not have been appropriate for Richardson to opine on health issues - but there are plenty of scientific studies that have reported on the long term risk.

Air Pollution and Public Health
Each year in the UK, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution which plays a role in many of the major health challenges of our day. It has been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia.
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Old 09-13-20, 01:18 PM
  #134  
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I think you have to weigh the data with what feels right for you. For me, if the air quality numbers are higher than, say, ~110 on Purple Air, I've noticed that I can usually smell smoke in the air. And if I'm smelling smoke, I'm not going to ride. If Purple Air's numbers are 100 or less, and I'm not smelling smoke, then I figure that for me - someone who is healthy and not in a "sensitive group" (although I'm apparently a "borderline asthmatic") - it's OK to ride. If I check Purple Air during a ride and the levels start getting bad, I'll cut my ride short if I can.

It really sucks, but I'd just rather not gamble on riding in smokey air.

But this means I really need to get an indoor trainer. Researching them right now, as a matter of fact, as it's clear this is going to be a yearly occurrence here now.
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Old 09-13-20, 02:15 PM
  #135  
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The smoke was still above the fog on this ride.


Sonoma Co. 9-9-20
by djk762, on Flickr
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Old 09-13-20, 04:40 PM
  #136  
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Well, you know, after smelling smoke constantly for the last 3 weeks, I don't think I'd trust my nose over scientific instruments. It's pretty obviously smoky out there. That's what the haze is.
I can definitely smell smoke today unlike yesterday, so my olfactory organ definitely hasn't been totally desensitized. But the AQI numbers shown by purpleair are across the board the same or lower than yesterday:

https://www.rockgarden.net/download/purpleair_aqi.png
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Old 09-13-20, 05:08 PM
  #137  
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Thanks, but ... it is intact. (We thought it was gone for about 10 days.). Most of the area I live in is a disaster.
Well, finally some good news!
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Old 09-13-20, 05:10 PM
  #138  
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Originally Posted by Pavol Stromcek View Post
I think you have to weigh the data with what feels right for you.
Bingo. It's like everything else in life - there's some risk involved, and you do your best to estimate that risk and make a decision with incomplete information. Riding in this smoke carries some health risk, but then so does sitting on my ass doing nothing but eating.

For me, if the air quality numbers are higher than, say, ~110 on Purple Air, I've noticed that I can usually smell smoke in the air. And if I'm smelling smoke, I'm not going to ride. If Purple Air's numbers are 100 or less, and I'm not smelling smoke, then I figure that for me - someone who is healthy and not in a "sensitive group" (although I'm apparently a "borderline asthmatic") - it's OK to ride. If I check Purple Air during a ride and the levels start getting bad, I'll cut my ride short if I can.
I've never had the best sniffer, but even my wife, who's very sensitive to smells, can barely smell it anymore, even at 120. 3 weeks ago, she was smelling it when it was >50. So I stopped relying on that, and go with PurpleAir. I'd been holding off riding if it was over 70, but I couldn't face giving up a Sunday ride when the AQI was still in "the general population probably won't be affected" territory. So I headed out. The air actually looked better down in Portola Valley than farther north, and I didn't feel any tightening of my chest or anything. I started out thinking maybe I'd ride 30 miles or so, maybe 40. I felt so good I went 50 miles.

My view is not that it's without risk to my health. My view is that the risk is tolerable. While I did have a tendency to asthma 30 years ago, it hasn't bothered me for at least 10 years. I don't think I'd go for a ride if the air was like it was yesterday - >160 - but <120 is visibly clearer.

It really sucks, but I'd just rather not gamble on riding in smokey air.

But this means I really need to get an indoor trainer. Researching them right now, as a matter of fact, as it's clear this is going to be a yearly occurrence here now.
Well, you know, there's the rainy season, too. That, and darkness.
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Old 09-13-20, 05:48 PM
  #139  
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
... The BAAQMD is is tasked with monitoring and controlling air quality, so it may not have been appropriate for Richardson to opine on health issues...
Thank You. You have stated the issue much more eloquently and diplomatically than I ever could, and simply summarizes my frustration with this article in particular and all the media reports in general.
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Old 09-13-20, 06:45 PM
  #140  
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On my smokey ride this afternoon, I happened upon this feral couch....




This was at Canada and 92, around 3:00.

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Old 09-13-20, 08:48 PM
  #141  
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I ended up riding outdoors today. AQI was 160's or 120's, depending on the conversion. Visibility was terrible, but the air wasn't choking, actually seemed ok. At this point, I'll bet the majority of the bad air is due to pollution, with the blanket of smoke and low clouds, and lack of wind we've had the past few days. Wore an N95 for most of the ride, took it off to do a 10 minute hard interval. Didn't feel any bad effects, nor did I feel like I had trouble getting a deep breath. I guess my lungs are better off when there's less smoke at the surface, even if the AQI is still "unhealthy". Whether or not I put myself at further risk breathing in this air is unclear, but I didn't have any immediate effects. There was enough of a breeze that most of the ash was blown off the road, I didn't come back any dirtier than I normally do. I think I'll be able to ride in this, even with the continuted poor air quality and visibility, not sure if I'm ready to do a long, hard ride without a mask though...

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Old 09-13-20, 09:08 PM
  #142  
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Originally Posted by cthenn View Post
I ended up riding outdoors today. AQI was 160's or 120's, depending on the conversion. Visibility was terrible, but the air wasn't choking, actually seemed ok. At this point, I'll bet the majority of the bad air is due to pollution, with the blanket of smoke and low clouds, and lack of wind we've had the past few days. Wore an N95 for most of the ride, took it off to do a 10 minute hard interval. Didn't feel any bad effects, nor did I feel like I had trouble getting a deep breath. I guess my lungs are better off when there's less smoke at the surface, even if the AQI is still "unhealthy". Whether or not I put myself at further risk breathing in this air is unclear, but I didn't have any immediate effects. There was enough of a breeze that most of the ash was blown off the road, I didn't come back any dirtier than I normally do. I think I'll be able to ride in this, even with the continuted poor air quality and visibility, not sure if I'm ready to do a long, hard ride without a mask though...
To be fair, it's not likely you'd feel the upregulation of IL-6 in your alveolar macrophages....
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Old 09-14-20, 11:38 AM
  #143  
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On the way to work, I was listening to "Forum" on NPR. They had someone from one of the local universities who actually studies this stuff. In the same show where he was talking about not going out and filtering your indoor air and so on, he was praising the local pro sports teams for declaring a cutoff of 200. This makes it hard for the individual to know what to do when the air is not clear, but not deadly. I mean, OBVIOUSLY you don't go for a ride when the AQI is 300. But what about when it's between 100 and 140, as it is now, uniformly, all over the Bay Area?

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Old 09-14-20, 11:43 AM
  #144  
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
OBVIOUSLY you don't go for a ride when the AQI is 300. But what about when it's between 100 and 140, as it is now, uniformly, all over the Bay Area?
If I were getting PAID large sums to be outside, I might just go out at 200.
But alas, I'm not, so I'll hold off and wait for better numbers.

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Old 09-14-20, 04:12 PM
  #145  
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150 is my cutoff. I might do an easy commute ride in the low 100s, but nothing hard.
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Old 09-15-20, 08:39 AM
  #146  
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Looks like starting today into Thursday or maybe Friday the skies might finally clear for a bit! Hoping it holds through the weekend, but I'll take what I can get.
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Old 09-15-20, 04:51 PM
  #147  
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Definitely much better today. All yellow in my area the whole day. Could have gone for a ride but I'm giving it one more day for it to settle down. Tomorrow I'm out for a gravel.
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Old 09-15-20, 04:53 PM
  #148  
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We got electricity back. There has been a massive PGE deployment for the last 4 weeks
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Old 09-15-20, 06:04 PM
  #149  
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Originally Posted by 2cam16 View Post
Definitely much better today. All yellow in my area the whole day.


Yes, much better also in the East Bay Hills. Even a few greens. Nice ride with no N95 mask and also noticed quite a few more riders out today. Hope it keeps up.
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Old 09-15-20, 08:12 PM
  #150  
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The whole Peninsula was below 70 at 4PM, so I headed out - San Mateo to the top of Canada and back, a quick 26 miles. Checked Purple Air when I got back, and HALLELUJAH!!!

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