Staying safe today amid very unhealthy air quality

UC Berkeley Vice Chancellors Marc Fisher, Stephen Sutton and Randy Katz sent the following message to the campus community on Friday:

The smoke from the California fires has caused our local air quality to worsen. Currently, the Air Quality Index (AQI) for Berkeley is between 201-300 which is in the “Very Unhealthy” category. At this level we recommend that all employees and students in the region take steps to reduce your exposure, whether you are on campus or at home:

  • Avoid nonessential outdoor activities.
  • If you have lung-related medical conditions such as asthma, emphysema, or heart disease, you are encouraged to follow your personal doctor’s directions, and seek care in a timely manner if you have symptoms or concerns. Please communicate and coordinate with your supervisor about this.

Currently due to COVID-19, all campus building ventilation systems are recirculating outside air, therefore indoor air quality in campus buildings is likely to also be poor. For this reason, we also advise that personnel who are authorized to work on campus also avoid coming to campus unless critical.

In keeping with our University of California AQI-Based Decision-Making Matrix for Wildfire and Smoke Events:

  • Managers and supervisors are asked to suspend or reschedule outdoor work performed by your staff (including research personnel) unless absolutely necessary
  • Due to current air ventilation, managers and supervisors are also asked to encourage all personnel to work remotely wherever possible while air quality remains at this level or worse.
  • All athletic activities will be cancelled.
  • Respirators are available at the campus Hazardous Materials Facility until 3 p.m. for voluntary use by students and employees who are authorized to work on campus, whether indoors or outdoors, who are required to be on campus today. Please visit the EH&S web page for a link to an optional training on properly wearing an N95 respirator.

The current unhealthy air quality may persist into the weekend. We recommend that the campus community monitor the AirNow Website for current AQI by location, and continue to take the above steps if AQI remains above 200.

We will continue to monitor this situation and update the campus community as needed. Our thoughts are with the many campus members whose homes and families are directly affected by the fires.

For more information, see: