Today at Berkeley Lab

Air Quality Update

Dear Lab Community,

Smoke from a fire in Butte County has caused our local air quality to worsen. In close consultation with Health Services, we advise managers to limit employees’ physical activity outside and to keep office windows closed. Where feasible, actions are being taken to reduce the amount of outside air that is being delivered to our buildings. As conditions improve, employees will be encouraged to resume their regular duties outdoors.

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. Continue to communicate and coordinate with your supervisor on any actions needed.  Anyone experiencing symptoms such as headache or light headedness are encouraged to go to health services for consultation.

Health Services advises against the wearing of isolation masks and surgical masks, as they do not filter out smoke particles.  They are designed to contain droplets and aerosols (coughing, sneezing, etc.) generated by the wearer, but do not filter the air that is being breathed in.

Currently, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has categorized the air quality for Berkeley in the “Unhealthy” range. Environmental Protection Agency’s guidance for this index level is:

• Sensitive groups: Avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Consider moving activities indoors or rescheduling.

• Everyone else: Reduce prolonged or heavy exertion. Take more breaks during outdoor activities.

Finally, we will continue to monitor this situation and update the Lab community as substantive developments occur.Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Michael Brandt
Deputy Lab Director for Operations