City of Sacramento to keep distributing smoke masks despite county’s opposition

The City of Sacramento will continue distributing N95 breathing masks to Sacramento residents over the Sacramento County public health division’s objections, according to a media release Friday.

The city seemed primed to end its distribution program Thursday after the county — which provided the first 7,000 of the 67,000 masks distributed thus far — issued a statement saying the masks may do more harm than good outside of the fire zone.

The mask’s respirator can cause carbon dioxide buildup and associated breathing and heart problems, the county said. They are also ineffective when applied incorrectly and don’t work for men with beards.

On Friday morning, though, California Department of Emergency Services delivered 200,000 N95 masks to the city, which then distributed them across all Sacramento Fire Department stations. Mask pickup and demonstrations are available between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Spare The Air reported Sacramento’s air quality was “very unhealthy” to “hazardous” Friday as the Camp Fire continued to rage in Butte County. The fire, which was 45 percent contained as of Friday morning, had killed at least 66 people and burned through 142,000 acres of land around Paradise.

“With the air quality in Sacramento at such unhealthy levels from the Camp Fire, the City is pleased to be able to continue offering N95 masks to people who want them,” city director of emergency management Daniel Bowers said in the release. “These masks must be worn and used properly. If people have any questions about if they should wear one, they should seek the advice of a medical provider.”

Strong winds may cause the smoke to dissipate Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service. Showers are expected the hit Paradise on Wednesday and Thursday.

Sacramento County spokeswoman Kim Nava confirmed the county hadn’t changed its position Friday in spite of the city’s renewed distribution.

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