- Author: Brian Oatman
As wildfires continue to burn in the north and south portions of the state, many of us are also affected by poor air quality. For the past several days, throughout much of Northern California, air quality measurements have ranged from “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” to “Very Unhealthy” as measured by the Air Quality Index (AQI).
Based on public health and air quality management information, we have developed the following recommendations:
- Monitor your local air quality predictions and real-time data. Most county or regional Air Quality Management Districts post this information on their website. You can find your local Air Quality Management District here: https://www.arb.ca.gov/capcoa/dismap.htm.
- As much as possible, avoid strenuous work or other activities outside when the AQI is in the Unhealthy range or above. Most buildings have air filtration and the effects of the poor outdoor air quality are reduced inside.
- Since individual employees can have different sensitivity to poor air quality, supervisors should allow employees to take a sick day, or modify their work activities, if needed to reduce exposure.
- If you cannot postpone outdoor work, consider using a respirator that will filter the particulate pollution that is in the air, such as an N95. However, be aware that when a particulate respirator is working effectively, it can slightly restrict air flow and make breathing more difficult. People with chronic respiratory, cardiac or other medical conditions that make normal breathing difficult should check with their doctor before using an N95 or any respirator.
- If you are using a respirator, read the instructions on proper use, so you know what it will protect against, and how to wear it properly. The respirator must fit tight in order to be effective. For more information about how to properly wear a respirator, see http://www.sparetheair.com/assets/FaceMasks-FiltersInfo.pdf
- Normally, the use of a respirator at work is to prevent exposure to workplace breathing hazards and a medical evaluation and a fit test are required. However, due to these extreme environmental conditions, voluntary use of a respirator may be appropriate, as long as the employee is provided the following information about respirator use:
- For more details about use of respirators, see NIOSH: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/respirators/
- If your office needs to close due to fire-related conditions, the County Director, REC Director, or other leader should contact Brian Oatman (email@example.com or 530-304-2054) to inform ANR administration of the closure.
The UC ANR Fire in California website has additional tips and information:https://ucanr.edu/sites/fire/Current/Health/Air_Quality/
You can also consult the UCANR Environmental Health & Safety website at: http://safety.ucanr.edu.
Director, Risk & Safety Services
View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at http://ucanr.edu/sites/ANRUpdate/Comments.
This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.