County of Marin - News Releases - Public Health Advisory on Air Quality


For Immediate Release
October 12, 2017

Air Quality Health Tips for Marin Residents

Public Health Division issues advisory about proliferation of wildfire smoke

San Rafael, CA – The fires burning in Napa, Sonoma and other Northern California counties are affecting air quality and have created a potential health hazard in Marin County. The Public Health Division of the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services has issued the following public health advisory.

A pile of donated clothing in the foreground and the sun with a brown sky in the background.Brown, smoky air looms over Marin Center, the location of a temporary emergency shelter for wildfire evacuees.

For the General Public:

    Please be aware that with shifting winds and poor wildfire containment air quality can change drastically in a short period of time.

    Smoke from wildfires can affect health. The most common symptoms are eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Follow these precautions to protect your health and those with health problems, especially heart or respiratory conditions, should take extra caution:

    • Minimize outdoor activities
    • Stay indoors with windows and doors closed as much as possible
    • Do not run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside
    • Run your air-conditioner only if it does not bring smoke in from the outdoors
    • Consider leaving the area until smoke conditions improve if you experience symptoms related to smoke exposure

    For Outdoor Workers:

    • Limit exertion
    • Take frequent breaks
    • If prolonged outdoor activity is unavoidable, proper masks (for example N95 masks) can protect against harmful exposure
    • Consult with your employer if you have specific concerns

    For Schools:

    • Outdoor activities should be limited
    • Windows and doors should be kept shut as much as possible
    • When air quality is unhealthy activities such as athletic events or practices should be cancelled or rescheduled
    • Watch for symptoms and take action as needed
    • Students with asthma should follow their asthma action plans and keep their quick-relief medicine close at hand

    When to Seek Medical Attention:

    Contact your health care provider if you experience the following symptoms that do not improve after moving indoors or into a safe air quality environment:

    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Wheezing
    • Chest tightness or pain
    • Palpitations
    • Nausea or unusual fatigue
    • Lightheadedness and/or feeling faint

    As always, if you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1. 

    Follow @MarinHHS on Twitter for health department updates.

    For information about the wildfires, go to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CALFIRE) webpage,

    For more information about air quality, go to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District webpage,


Dr. Grant Colfax
Health and Human Services

20 N. San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-3696
Email: Dr. Grant Colfax
Marin HHS website