The San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics are scheduled to play home games this week as the Air Quality Index (AQI) rises to dangerous levels in different parts of the Bay Area. The Giants have home games every day from now (August 19) through Thursday, August 27, while the A’s have home games through Sunday, August 23.
We reached out to the Giants and A’s for comment about their AQI safety policies, including what AQI levels would lead to the postponement of games, whether those policies are established by the MLB or individual teams, and what precautions they’re taking for players who may be at a higher risk of health issues. Both teams did not address our questions, instead writing variations of “we are monitoring the situation.”
For reference, an AQI between 101 and 150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups; an AQI between 151 and 200 is considered unhealthy for everyone, and some members of the general public may experience adverse health effects; an AQI between 201 and 300 is considered very unhealthy for everyone; and, an AQI of 301 and higher is considered hazardous, with serious health risks for everyone. As of Wednesday afternoon, many parts of the Bay Area have reached an AQI between 151 and 200.
That both teams chose not to directly respond to our questions is perplexing, given that other sports leagues have weighed in on AQI limits in recent years. In 2018, the NFL told 49ers reporter Matt Barrows that it would relocate games played in an area where the AQI exceeded 200 (that chosen limit led to some criticism when the 49ers played at Levi’s Stadium while there was an AQI of 156). Separately, the NCAA issued the following AQI safety guidelines in 2018:
- AQI of 100 – 150: “Schools should consider removing sensitive athletes from outdoor practice or competition venues and should closely monitor all athletes for respiratory difficulty.”
- AQI of 151 – 200: “Outdoor activities should be shortened, and exertion should be minimized by decreasing the intensity of activity. Sensitive athletes should be moved indoors.”
- AQI of 201 – 300: “Serious consideration should be given to rescheduling the activity or moving it indoors. Prolonged exposure and heavy exertion should be avoided. Avoid all outdoor physical activity for sensitive individuals.”
- AQI of 300 or higher: “Outdoor activities should be moved indoors or canceled if indoor activity is not an option.”
That same year, with AQI levels exceeding 200 due to the Camp Fire, Stanford and Cal rescheduled their football matchup in Berkeley.
We will update this post accordingly if the Giants or A’s provide additional details about their AQI safety precautions.
Alex Shultz is the SFGate sports editor. Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @AlexShultz