BAAQMD has issued a
due to the smoke from the North Bay fires which has caused unprecedented levels of air pollution in the Bay Area. Much of our region is expected to exceed national health standards for particulate matter pollution.
To see real time air quality readings in your area,
. As of Tuesday afternoon, the unhealthiest air is in the North Bay counties and along the northern Contra Costa shoreline from Richmond to Martinez, since it's directly downwind from the fires.
Air quality in your area may change depending on current wind conditions, so check the
throughout the day to get the most recent air quality reading in your area.
The fine particulate pollution in the smoke is unhealthy and can irritate our eyes and airways, cause coughing or a scratchy throat and irritated sinuses. These fine particles can get deep into our lungs and even into our bloodstream.
This unhealthy air especially impacts children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing respiratory issues and heart disease.
Here are some tips to protect yourself and others:
- Limit outdoor activities to avoid unnecessary exposure if you smell smoke. Given the current poor air quality in West Contra Costa County, all residents are urged to avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
- Set home and work air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate air in order to prevent outside air from being drawn inside. If you can't set the system on recirculate, then shut it down and keep windows and doors closed, if possible.
- Reduce exposure to smoky air by staying indoors with windows and doors closed, if possible.
- Check local media for changes in smoke or weather conditions.
- Don't add to the air pollution -- avoid wood burning, gasoline lawn mowing, and barbecuing; and minimize your driving, if possible.
A few tips about masks:
- The surgical and dust masks available at hardware stores are not effective to protect against the particulate matter from the smoke.
- If you need to be outside frequently, you can buy an N-95 mask, which can provide some level of protection if properly worn. They must fit tight on your face (tightly sealed around your nose and mouth). They are not suitable for children. Once you take them off, the inside of the mask gets contaminated and you need to use a new one.
- If you have a respiratory issue, don't automatically use an N-95 mask since they can restrict the flow of air and make it hard for you to breathe. Check with your health provider first.
Contra Costa County is doing its part to help those dealing with the fire. Various county departments have been in contact with North Bay agencies and some are providing assistance, including our Contra Costa Fire District, which has sent fire engines and firefighters. We're also reaching out to help homeless individuals get indoors and to access healthcare.
Let's take care of ourselves and each other during this difficult time!