Air quality update: Outdoor activities; use of masks

Environmental Health & Safety continues to monitor the air quality situation as a result of wildfire smoke in the Bay Area.

For the rest of the afternoon, the university encourages the following: Any classes with an outdoor component should make alternate arrangements. Hosts of events scheduled for outdoors also should consider indoor alternatives if possible.

The university has received questions today about the use of masks. As EH&S has shared in previous guidance, masks have limited effectiveness and are not recommended for healthy individuals. Often, people wear respirator masks incorrectly or too loosely. In addition, using respirator masks can make it harder to breathe, which may worsen existing medical conditions.

The best guidance is to limit outdoor exposure and to avoid strenuous outdoor activity. (Typically, this means outdoor activity that causes you to breathe hard, or activity you’ll be doing intermittently for several hours that makes you breathe slightly harder than normal. Consider the difference between a short bike ride to class and a prolonged vigorous run.)

However, given the air quality conditions today, students who feel they need an N95 mask can obtain one by visiting the Vaden Health Center, which is open until 8 p.m. this evening. For employees who have outdoor responsibilities, please consult your supervisor if you have concerns about performing your work due to the air quality. Supervisors can be in touch with Environmental Health & Safety at (650) 723-0448 if they have questions or need assistance.

Please continue to refer to the additional guidance on the EH&S website. Additional updates will be provided on the website as they become available.