Smoke pollution from wildfires raging in California and across the Pacific Northwest worsened in San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon, on Friday, giving those cities and others in the region the worst air quality in the world, according to IQAir.com.
Public health officials warned residents to keep indoors with the windows shut, to set air conditioners to run on recirculated air instead of fresh, and to use air purifiers if they had them. Meanwhile, they wrestled with whether to open “smoke shelters” for homeless people or others lacking access to clean air amid the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about herding people indoors.
“The same population that is most vulnerable to the virus is also most vulnerable to the smoke,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan noted during a news conference.
The sky turned a hazy, grayish white across the Northwest as winds that had previously pushed much of the smoke offshore shifted, bringing unhealthy levels of