Regional air regulators admit they were unable to measure the amount of soot in the air as flames raged at the Chevron refinery. But, a single air sample taken two miles from the refinery and six hours after the fire shows the amount of fine particulate material in the air wasn’t higher than normal for early August, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
“In a nutshell, the overall results … were unremarkable for this time of year,” said Eric Stevenson, director of air sciences for the regional agency. “We see higher levels during wintertime when people burn fires in their fireplace.”
The air data does not explain why more than 14,000 people in the East Bay went to hospitals with smoke-related complaints.
No soot readings were taken during the height of the fire, when a plume of black smoke rose 2,000 feet into the air and spread past the East Bay hills, the air regulators acknowledged.
“The particulate results are what we expected to see, given that the monitoring began at midnight after the fire was out,” said Wendel Brunner, director of public health for Contra Costa County Health Services. “These results, however, do not suggest there were not health impacts experienced by residents in the immediate area.”
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