With wildfires in Northern California, everyone is at risk from smoky conditions

November 16, 2018

With the air quality in Northern California reaching the "very unhealthy" category this week, we encourage you to take the following steps recommended by the American Lung Association to address your personal health and comfort:

  • Stay inside as much as possible, with doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut – with clean air circulating through air conditioners and/or air cleaners. Residents should use the recirculation setting on their home air conditioners to avoid outdoor air contamination. Using whole house fans is not recommended because they can allow unfiltered outside air into the home.
  • When driving through smoky areas, car windows and vents should be closed. Air conditioning should be set to recirculate to avoid exposure to outside air.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors, particularly if you smell smoke or experience eye or throat irritation.
  • If you have lung disease, check in with your physician regarding any changes in medication that may be needed to cope with the smoky conditions. If you experience any symptoms, contact your physician immediately.
  • If you're returning to a fire-damaged home, keep children away from the ash and limit your contact with it as well. Wear an N-95 mask, protective clothing, gloves and goggles to reduce your exposure

If you experience smoke-related health issues, seek medical care.


For current information on Bay Area air quality, visit Bay Area Air Quality Management District website http://www.baaqmd.gov/.

For additional information and guidance, refer to the Centers for Disease Control – Protection from Wildfire Smoke: https://www.cdc.gov/features/wildfires/index.html

Information regarding masks: https://www.dir.ca.gov/…/dosh_public…/N95-mask-questions.pdf


 We need to make sure we understand the immune effects of this unprecedented very low air quality and to determine how safe our homes really are.

If anyone has air quality monitors in their home, please keep a log of the values and contact our center at snpcenterallergy_inquiry@stanford.com

We recommend monitors that measure pm2.5. 


KQED Forum - "Wildfire Smoke, Air Quality and Your Health" (Dr. Sharon Chinthrajah)

KPIX CBS San Francisco Bay Area - "Multiple Bay Area School Districts Cancel Friday Classes Due To Air Quality" (Dr. Mary Prunicki)

KTVU FOX 2 - "Air quality worsens and is expected to last for at least five more days" (Dr. Kari Nadeau) 

Stanford News Service - "Wildfires destroying California bring questions about health and climate" (Dr. Kari Nadeau)

San Francisco Chronicle - "Is being indoors really enough to save you from wildfire smoke?" (Dr. Kari Nadeau)

Mercury News - "Is being indoors really enough to save you from wildfire smoke?" (Dr. Sharon Chinthrajah)

The New York Times - "Air Quality in California: Devastating Fire Leads to a New Danger" (Dr. Kari Nadeau & Dr. Sharon Chinthrajah)