Breathing The Burn

As the wildfires continue to rage in California, the state suffers from some of the worst air quality in the world.

Why it matters & what to know about air quality.


What Is “Air Quality”?

  • Who: The EPA measures it by using the Air Quality Index or “API” that ranges from 0 – 500.
  • How: Calculates 5 factors: ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, & nitrogen dioxide.
  • Why It Matters: “Healthy” air quality is around 50. Areas in CA have measured higher than 200 (“very unhealthy” for everyone).


“Very little of the smoke is leaving the state.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Drew Peterson explaining why the air quality is so bad in the Bay Area, 200 miles from the deadliest fire in California history. The smoke is getting "trapped", only exiting through a sliver of opening near San Francisco's Golden Gate.

Why It Matters:

  • The super tiny particles in the air from the wildfires can irritate our eyes & lungs, but also pass into our blood stream leading to internal inflammation. Scientists are unsure about all effects of long-term exposure.
  • One report says breathing in particles from the wildfires is equal to smoking 10 cigarettes a day (Quartz).


Something To Consider

Many Californians are encouraged to not spend a lot of time outside, and if they do, to wear masks.

Not all masks are created equal.

Bandanas, surgical masks do not block particles; only respirator masks (ex: N95, R99 or P100) are designed to protect against at least 95% of airborne particles.



Several of the deadly California wildfires are still not contained. Fires have caused school closures, rescheduling of outside sporting events, and impacted air quality in Oregon. Want to check your air quality? Enter you zip code at (link on source page).

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