November 15, 2018

Office of the Chancellor

University of California, Berkeley

200 California Hall # 1500

Berkeley, CA 94720

Re: Air Quality Emergency at UC Berkeley

Chancellor Christ,

On behalf of the Associated Students of the University of California, we are writing to express concern over the current quality of Berkeley’s air as a result of the 2018 Camp Fire. As of November 15th, the local air quality index (AQI) is 192. According to the EPA, AQI between 151 and 200 is considered unhealthy. The next two days are predicted to have AQI numbers of 200-300+ due to the direction of the winds.

We are disappointed by the University of California, Berkeley administration’s insufficient response to these public health risks. The Tang Center is both ill-equipped and ill-prepared to support and protect students in these conditions. Students need particulate respirators (rated N-95 or greater) in order to best protect their lungs from the wildfire smoke. When addressing the ASUC Senate, VCSA Stephen Sutton indicated that there is currently no plan to restock their mask supply at the Tang Center. Considering the diversity of effects these air quality concerns can have on our students, specifically students with asthma and lung conditions, we urge the Tang Center to prioritize these concerns.

In order to better serve the needs of students, staff, and faculty, we strongly urge the University of California, Berkeley administration to provide emergency funds for N-95 masks and mobile air filtration units for indoor spaces. Campus buildings are not equipped to filter out the pollutants making the air indoors just as harmful as it is outside. Many of our students have already been affected by the air quality emergency, and a petition of more than 10,000 student signatures is urging the administration to cancel classes until the air quality recovers.

Moving forward, as students at the University of California, we suggest that the administration and academic senate adopts campus-wide standards for air quality and outlines a clear plan of action should another public health emergency arise. Currently, the Berkeley Office of Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) has not outlined a plan of action for any air quality emergency, and this poses a risk to the students, staff, and faculty of our campus. Specifically, when AQI exceeds 200, individuals on campus should be provided with N-95 masks in order to protect their respiratory health while faculty should heavily consider canceling class. The EPA also considers an AQI of above 300 to be hazardous to public health, and we would urge the administration to close the campus, provide N-95 masks, and install indoor mobile units for air filtration. 

We hope faculty members will understand the impact these conditions have on students in the coming days and accommodate any outstanding medical concerns.


Sincerely,

Alexander Wilfert. ASUC President

Hung Huynh, ASUC Executive Vice President

Nuha Khalfay, ASUC External Affairs Vice President

Melany Amarikwa, ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President

Nick Araujo, ASUC Senator

Zach Carter, ASUC Senator

Justin L. Greenwald, ASUC Senator

Saakshi Goel, ASUC Senator

Nikhil Harish, ASUC Senator

Imran Khan, ASUC Senator

Teddy Lake, ASUC Senator

Aaron Bryce Lee, ASUC Senator

James Li, ASUC Senator

Regina Kim, ASUC Senator

Idalys Perez, ASUC Senator

Amma Sarkodee-Adoo, ASUC Senator

Karina Sun, ASUC Senator

Andy Theocharous, ASUC Senator

William Wang, ASUC Senator

Anna Whitney, ASUC Senator

Amir Wright, ASUC Senator

Anne Zepecki, ASUC Senator