Despite Bay Area's orange glow, air quality levels haven't totally deteriorated, says Stanford pulmonologist

"It feels like it's the end of the world or something is lurking," said San Jose resident Dawn Salerno. "Something is in the making. It's a very eerie feeling."
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As wildfires burn across Northern California, a combination of smoke and haze made for an apocalyptic-like glow across the Bay Area sky Wednesday, exhausting many who have not only had to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but also the poor air quality in recent weeks.

"It feels like it's the end of the world or something is lurking," said San Jose resident Dawn Salerno. "Something is in the making. It's a very eerie feeling."

With ash falling from above, the darkness during the day could almost be mistaken for an early evening. Despite the conditions, visitors stopped by Santana Row in San Jose to shop and dine, including Salerno's daughter, Brittany, who met her for lunch.


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"Just staying indoors, it kind of makes me go crazy," said Brittany Salerno, who lives in Walnut Creek. "Going outside right now even if it's just taking a quick walk is kind of like my outlet to freedom at the moment."

Throughout the day, air readings of fine particular matter in San Jose were considered unhealthy for those with breathing or other underlying issues, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Many expected the numbers to be worse, but researchers say a confluence of factors was providing relief, albeit temporarily.

VIDEO: Dramatic photos capture orange, hazy skies seen all across San Francisco Bay Area
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All across the San Francisco Bay Area, residents woke up to dark, orange skies. Here's a look at some of the most dramatic images.



"It's actually not so bad because that smoke from the wildfires is being trapped in a layer of air, above the air of what we're actually breathing," said Dr. Sharon Chinthrajah, a Stanford pulmonologist and researcher at the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research.
While the ash and falling debris may be alarming to see, Chinthrajah says it's actually easier for our bodies to keep it out of our systems.

Chinthrajah added, "It's the smaller particles that we may not be able to see that settle, that actually get inhaled through our nose and through our mouth that we worry about causing inflammation or causing symptoms.

Experts say it's important to continue monitoring the air quality indexes and to pay attention to what your body's telling you.

"If you're feeling irritation, if your nose is running, if you're having breathing symptoms, with labored breathing or chest pain, or things like that, that's where you know, you should seek medical attention," said Chinthrajah.

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