The news article by Harini Shyamsundar and Ashley Wong reported that the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for California in part due to dry conditions. Considering the recent critical weather conditions as a result of the North Bay wildfires, I think it is important to inform the community on what precautions we should take in order to avoid adverse health effects from pollutants in the air.
Our UC Berkeley student community is currently at risk because of the excessive amount of exposure we have from walking to classes every day and relying on public transportation to get from place to place. As an undergraduate student, I have witnessed firsthand how dry conditions are affecting the community but was disappointed by the lack of response from community health advocates.
Students who already have pre-existing lung conditions or asthma may start to notice some complications with breathing; smoke inhalation combined with excessive physical activity allows even more pollutants to enter our system and cause shortness of breath. Other community members are at risk as well: mail carriers and security guards are seen wearing face masks to protect them from exposure.
Moreover, the Tang Center has been responsive by selling face masks to reduce exposure. It was not greatly publicized, however, and the campus has not addressed students on what precautions or resources are available. Bringing awareness to the adverse health effects of these wildfires can help remind vulnerable students to check in with their providers and assess their health needs.
Neyat Tefery is a UC Berkeley student.