We are very happy to say the wildfires in norther California are more under control, and that the San Francisco-Bay Area air quality is much improved!
In the best of times, we worry about air quality in our building, because laser-cutting wood creates smoke, a bit like a campfire, and you don't want even a small campfire running 24/7 in your building.
So we have a great exhaust system and a lot of industrial air filtering.
One of our air filtering systems came with an air quality monitor that we always have running. What exactly is being measured and displayed by that air quality monitor isn't clear, and frankly I had wondered if it worked at all because it was always just green!
But the wildifire smoke really ticked-off our air quality monitor! Here's what it looked like during the worst days:
Air Quality During Wildfires:
Things have been a lot better this last week - back to "green":
Air Quality Post-Wildfires:
As an engineer who likes technical details, I find it amusing that this air quality monitor doesn't tell us what it is measuring or the scale - all we see are these bars across the day.
However, this simplified UI color-based UI does work pretty well - the color changes helped everyone have a good mental model of how bad the air was, and helped everyone make good decisions about when to run the lasers (which pull in outside air called make-air to make-up for the exhaust system pulling air out of the building), and when to just stay home.
Our hearts go out to the Oregonians who are still battling the worst of their fires, and the Seattleites and other Washingtonians getting bad air quality from that, and we hear things are still quite bad in Southern California.
We hope the federal government will be able to invest more in fire prevention and fire fighting, because fire danger affects so many states and has a cross-state impact. While there are many things that might be better taken care of by markets, fire-fighting is a classic example of what government is useful for because of its scale and the negative externalities of fires on the broader population - here's a nice explanation of why fire-fighting is a public good.