Air Quality

Wildfire Smoke

Providing resources and guidance for the UC Berkeley community to reduce exposure to wildfire smoke.

Indoor Air Quality During Smoky Conditions

The UC Berkeley campus has hundreds of buildings and each building performs differently based on its design, age, equipment, and critical human factors.

"It Smells Smoky in Here..."

We can't stress enough the importance of keeping doors and windows closed when it's smoky outdoors. Indoor air will commonly smell of smoke during a wildfire event, but when we test it, we find it’s consistently better (i.e., containing lower particulate matter) than being outdoors. Most buildings contain MERV-rated filters that reduce harmful particulate pollution, but do not have charcoal...

Miranda Monge

Environmental Specialist
Environmental Protection
Environmental Permits
Outdoor Air Quality

Why is the operation of wood-burning devices prohibited during Winter Spare the Air Alerts?

Wood burning produces about one-third of the particulate pollution on a typical winter night. There is an estimated 1.4 million fireplaces and woodstoves in the Bay Area; wood smoke air pollution from these appliances has been a health concern for many years, especially on winter evenings.

Are there any exemptions to the wood-burning devices curtailment during Winter Spare the Air Alerts?

Yes. If electrical power OR natural gas service is not available in your area, you may qualify for an exemption. You may also qualify for an exemption if operating a wood-burning device is your only source of heat. Please see the BAAQMD regulation for a complete description of exemptions:

What other things can I do to reduce wood smoke pollution?

The BAAQMD gives 10 tips to reducing wood smoke pollution on their website:

Give your fireplace or wood stove the night off. Replace your fireplace or wood stove with a clean burning natural gas device. Insulate your house to keep warmth in. Save energy and reduce pollution by wearing a sweater on chilly nights. Switch to an EPA-certified wood burning device or pellet stove, which emits up to 70% less PM. Burn clean, hotter fires with plenty of...

Why are particulates a health concern?

Particulate matter is a mixture of solid and liquid particles in the air. The smaller-sized particles are of greatest health concern because they can pass through the nose and throat, lodging deep in the lungs. There have been many correlations between rising PB levels with serious health effects, such as asthma symptoms and decreased lung function.