Air quality and health

October 12, 2017

Dear Campus Community,

The smoke from the North Bay fires has caused our local air quality to worsen over the last several days, and it will likely stay poor through the weekend. To limit exposure indoors, University Health Services (UHS) is advising all building windows remain closed. 

In addition, Facilities is assessing the operational impacts of shutting down air-handling units in buildings that have this capability. Where feasible, this action may be taken to reduce the amount of outside air that is being delivered.

If an employee has lung-related medical conditions such as asthma, emphysema or heart disease, they are encouraged to follow their personal doctor's directions, and seek care in a timely manner if they have symptoms or concerns. Please communicate and coordinate with your supervisor about this.

Currently, the Air Quality Index (AQI) for Berkeley is 160 which is in the "Unhealthy" category. The guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for this index level follows:

  • Sensitive groups: Avoid prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion. Consider moving activities indoors or rescheduling.
  • Everyone else: Limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Take more breaks during outdoor activities.

We encourage everyone to consult the resources provided by UHS and/or their medical provider before making their own decision to engage in physical and outdoor activities.

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.

Thank you,

Anna Harte, MD
Medical Director, University Health Services

Sally McGarrahan
Associate Vice Chancellor, Facilities Services

Brandon DeFrancisci
Interim Director, Environment, Health & Safety


If you are a manager who supervises UC Berkeley employees without email access, please circulate this information to all.

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