Update: As air quality worsens, respiratory masks are selling out. Please call one of the listed stores below before visiting to make sure masks are in stock.
As the Bay Area suffers from poor air quality today, brought on by the Butte County fire, which has grown to over 125,000 acres, many residents have been warned to stay indoors and limit physical activity due to smoke lacing the area.
People can also be seen wearing face masks in an effort to reduce the amount of pollutants entering their lungs. But not all face masks work. You should look for particulate respirator masks, which are labeled NIOSH-approved, and marked as N95, N100, or P100.
Masks are not a substitute for staying indoors, but N-95 masks may be helpful for people who must work or travel outdoors.
Typically, such masks can be found at local hardware and medical supply stores, as well as Home Depot, Lowe’s, or on Amazon. But many stores have sold out of the respirator masks.
There are, however, a few places still carrying them. Here’s a list of stores that either have masks in stock or have sold out. This list will continue to update.
(* = masks in stock)
Markus Supply Ace Hardware (625 Third Street, Oakland): Sold out.
* Grand Lake Ace Hardware (1221 Grand Avenue, Piedmont): In stock.
* Cole Hardware (5533 College Avenue, Oakland): In stock.
Kelly-Moore Paints (4156 Telegraph Avenue): Sold out.
Sherwin-Williams Commercial Paint Store (559 66th Avenue, Oakland): Sold out.
* Berkeley Ace Hardware (2020 Milvia, Berkeley): In stock. Limited supply as of Friday afternoon.
Ellis Ace Hardware (5424 MLK Jr. Way): Sold out.
* Western Gravel and Roofing Supply (1426 Donner Avenue): “We just restock and will have nearly 600 boxes in Friday morning at 8 a.m.” [Bayview]
G Mazzei and Sons’ Hardware (5166 Third Street): Sold out. “We won’t have any in until Monday morning.” [Bayview]
Handy Handyman Hardware: (2075 Market): Sold out. Will have more Friday afternoon. [Duboce Triangle]
Cole Hardware (70 Fourth Street): Sold out. [SoMa]
Cole Hardware (345 Ninth Street) Sold out. [SoMa]
* Cole Hardware (956 Cole): Sold out. In stock but running low. [Cole Valley]
Cole Hardware (627 Vallejo): Sold out. [North Beach]
Cole Hardware (2254 Polk): Sold out. [Russian Hill]
Cliff’s Variety (479 Castro): Sold out. “We won’t have any until Thursday.” [Castro]
Roberts Hardware (1629 Haight): Sold out. [Upper Haight]
Great Wall Hardware (1821 Taraval): Sold out. Will have more masks on Monday. [Parkside]
Financial District Hardware (140 Pine): Sold out. [Financial District]
* Sunset True Value (3126 Noriega): In stock. [Outer Sunset]
Duke’s Ace Hardware (2526 Noriega): Sold out. [Outer Sunset]
Center Hardware (3003 Third Street): Sold out. [Dogpatch]
Kelly-Moore Paints (1020 Harrison): Sold out. [SoMa]
San Francisco Paint Source, Inc. (150 Pennsylvania Avenue): In stock.
San Francisco Paint Store - PPG Paints (1580 Pacific Avenue): Sold out.
Brownies Ace Hardware (1563 Polk): Sold out. [Russian Hill]
Benjamin Moore / House of Color (2850 24th Street): Sold out. [Mission]
* Glidden Professional Paint Center (1580 Pacific): In stock, but only a few. [Nob Hill]
Standard Plumbing Ace Hardware (6122 Geary Boulevard): Sold out. [Central Richmond]
Progress Hardware (724 Irving): Sold out. [Inner Sunset]
Benjamin Moore Paint - Creative Paint (5435 Geary Boulevard): Sold out. More in stock after 2 p.m. Friday [Central Richmond]
Also of note, SKC West has access to N95 masks and in most cases ships in one to two days.
It’s important to buy the correct fitting size. Children and people with small faces need small masks or gaps will occur. If there are air gaps, masks are ineffective. Look on the box or package to see measurements. The masks need to form an airtight seal around the face.
“I see people wearing masks with only one strap and it hanging off their chin or wearing surgical masks or bandanas,” explains local nurse Jessa Alt. “That’s actually doing nothing. Disposable masks need to be replaced after wearing and non-disposable have limits according to manufacturers.”
N95 disposable masks should be replaced after eight hours of continuous use.
This article has photos of how to wear a respirator mask.