Alameda library offers relief from heat, world's worst air quality with first-ever 'clean air center'

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KGO) -- As wildfire ravages the Bay Area, a unique trifecta of challenges presents itself, unlike fire seasons past.

Compounding extreme heat with the burden of coronavirus, is the dubious title of the worst air quality In the world.

A local library is trying it's best to do its part with a first-ever clean-air center.

RELATED: LIVE: Track air quality levels impacted by smoke from San Francisco Bay Area wildfires

"The East Bay and South Bay, mainly in those places, basically if you smell smoke you need to stay indoors with your windows and door closed," said Tina Landis of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

However these circumstances have created a conundrum: for those without air conditioning, stay indoors, sweltering - but breathing clean air or visit a cooling center at the risk of being indoors with others?

Landis said "The heat is a bigger risk than the health risk of smoke if you have health issues."

So for the first time, instead of just calling it a "cooling center," the Alameda Free Library is addressing both at a "clean air center" open through the weekend.

It seeks to solve both.


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"That's what we do - we are a community service so we want to be able to serve as many as we can safely," said Eva Volin is the Alameda Free Library.

To enter through the backside of the building, a face covering is required and you'll have to check in at the wellness station laden with sanitizers and wipes and your temperature will be taken.

You'll also have to sign in so the library can keep track of everyone who enters.

RELATED: Bay Area air quality worst in the world as wildfires rage in all but one county

Once your inside you won't be permitted into the library itself but into a back room and cafe area where there is a 25-person maximum total.

You'll also have to bring your own entertainment since no library books are allowed to prevent cross contamination.

The center will be open through the weekend from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and as long as the heat index is high. It is a constant reminder that as the world dissolves into chaos - at least the Alameda Free Library is here for you.

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