Camp Fire smoke, ash won't impact Bay Area soil, water supply

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Oakland resident, Jeff Zhong, casts his line at Lake Chabot just before sunset. It's his first time fishing since the Camp Fire broke out. It's been over a week, but he's still concerned about contamination.

RELATED: How will rain blow wildfire smoke out of Bay Area?

"The ashes (could) get into the lake, and the fish is going to eat that, and of course, (that can) poison them," says Zhong.

Particulate matter and ash from wildfires can contaminate soil, which can get into local water sources, like lakes and streams. But Dr. John Balmes, a professor at UC Berkeley and physician at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital says, contamination likely won't be a problem here in the Bay Area.

"(It's) probably not enough to really affect the fish people catch, or make it dangerous to swim in," explains Dr. Balmes.

He says the rain forecasted for Wednesday will clear the air and could even bring particulate matter to the ground. But he adds, most of it is wood smoke, which can be toxic when breathing, but not toxic for our soil.

"It's really not that toxic, if you don't inhale it," he says. "If it gets on your skin, it's not going to hurt your skin. If it gets in the water, it's going to be diluted out pretty well."

RELATED: East Bay still shrouded in bad air from Camp Fire smoke

As for the Bay Area's drinking water, that comes from the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which Dr. Balmes says wasn't impacted by the wildfires.
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