The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued Spare the Air alerts through Sunday because of smoke that has spread throughout the region from wildfires sparked by lightning last weekend.
The air district had already issued alerts through Wednesday, then extended it through this weekend because of elevated particulate pollution levels caused by the wildfires.
According to Purple Air, an index used by Canadian meteorologists, the Bay Area has the worst air quality on the planet due to smoke from the many wildfires.
The Peninsula, Santa Clara Valley and Livermore Valley are expected to see the heaviest impacts from the smoke pollution, but impacts are possible throughout the Bay Area, according to the air district.
Some local doctors said they've seen a rise in patients complaining about the air since the wildfires ignited.
"This is not just a nuisance, this is a health risk," Dr. Thomas Dailey, Chief of Pulmonary Medicine at Kaiser Santa Clara, said. "There are levels of air pollution that are now being documented as unhealthy for everyone."
Doctors said people going outside should try to use an N-95 mask.
Tech worker Neo Xu had an in-person meeting with his co-workers for the first time since March.
“I would say terrible because we can see the ash falling out of the sky and smell the smoke in the air," he said.
He said maybe face coverings and staying at home aren’t so bad after all.
“I would say the best way to do it is just stay at home. Don’t go outside," he said. "After our meeting, I’ll just go back and sit in my room because it’s a double benefit: stay away from the smoke, stay away from the COVID.”
On Spare the Air days, it is illegal for people to use fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or other wood-burning devices.