SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The poor air quality in San Jose and the South Bay, a lingering result of the Camp Fire in Butte County, has prompted air quality experts to advise people to avoid outdoor exercise and work.
The entire area is shrouded behind a grayish-brown haze.
But staying out of the mucky air is not so easy for workers such as Angel Hernandez, who works as a landscaper during the week and as a construction worker on weekends.
When asked if the smoke had any effect on his breathing, Hernandez said, “Not too much. Just a little bit. I have a protective mask.”
At Gunderson High School and at schools all across Northern California, another day of bad air quality meant that students had to stay indoors for PE classes. They also had to be limited to walking and mild exercise.
Pulmonologist Will Tseng says people who are exercising outside are putting themselves at great risk for lung, heart, neurological and immune system problems. Tiny particles in the air can embed themselves deep in one’s body.
“I have seen those people and I really advise people to not do that! Now is not the time to pursue outdoor activities at all,” said Tsang.
Some workers, such as roofing crews, were allowed to go home and avoid the bad air after some supervisors felt their eyes and throats burning.
Tseng advises outdoor workers to wear a custom-fitted N95 mask. A generic over-the-counter N95 mask may also work, but will only perform optimally if fitted by a professional.
“You can at least try. It’s better than nothing, You can still try it. But please, if you work outdoors, I strongly recommend you to avoid long exposure outside,” said Tseng.
Workers such as Hernandez donned the mask and continued their outdoor labor.
“I need some money. I got my family in Mexico. So we need to work,” said Hernandez.