Know your AQI when the sky turns brown

When the California wildfires start I always notice the pleasant smell of a campfire smoke first. In time, this smell becomes less pleasant as it lingers. Near a fire the smoke can make it difficult, or impossible to see. It can also spread for miles and the weaker, less dense smoke, can still be harmful to people and animals, especially the elderly and young children. 

Unlike a campfire, forest fires burn far more than trees. The smoke can be filled with toxins from everything caught in the path of the fire; from rubber tires to deadly chemicals. The smallest particulate matter is called PM2.5 because it has a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller. PM2.5 is particularly harmful to your health. 

Air quality index

Knowing your Air Quality Index (AQI) can help you decide if you need to wear an N95 face mask, or use an air purifier in your home. Your mobile phone, or even your smart watch, will have this information. Or visit to help you identify the level of risk for your location. During the California wildfires we use this information on the weekends to find pockets of fresh air in the Santa Cruz mountains.