Bay Area Air Quality Is So Poor Uber Drivers Are Selling Masks To Riders
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
With wildfires in both Northern and Southern California finally being contained, residents that were forced to evacuate are beginning to return home or to what’s left of their home.
In addition to entire communities having been leveled and many still being unaccounted for, Californians are facing a new hazard: dangerous air quality. Due to smoke from the wildfires, the air quality in parts of California is at levels that are dangerous to even the most healthy individual.
The area impacted the most by hazardous air quality is the San Francisco/Bay Area. Smoke and fine particulates from the massive Camp Fire have blanketed the Bay Area in a brown haze. Levels are currently “Very Unhealthy” according to Air Now, with some levels approaching the “Hazardous” threshold. This means that all residents, no matter how healthy, will likely experience respiratory issues.
Meanwhile, the poor air quality has also appeared to spark an entrepreneurial spirit in the service industry.
According to Recode, Uber drivers have started capitalizing on the hazardous air quality in the area. One rider shared a photo of what appears to be an Uber driver selling respirator masks for $5 each.
The masks appear to be entry level respirator masks that have the ability to filter out fine particulates. The masks are N95 certified, which is the bare minimum certification a mask would need to protect someone from the hazardous air quality in the San Francisco area. While some N95 certified masks can be pricey, the masks pictured above retail for $20 for a box of 15, or around $1.40 per mask. That means this Uber driver, assuming all 15 masks are sold, could make upwards of $50 per box.
Recode also noted that there have been multiple reports of Uber drivers giving out similar masks for free. While it may be more ethical to just give out masks given the magnitude of the air quality crisis, it isn’t illegal for Uber drivers to sell items out of their vehicles. In some cities, the practice of drivers selling goods from their vehicles is even regulated.
Whether or not you view this as ‘disaster capitalism,’ it is important to understand the extent of the air quality crisis in parts of California. Should you be traveling to the Bay Area or currently reside in the Bay Area, local authorities are urging the public to remain indoors. If you must go outside, ensure that you use an N95 certified respirator to filter out dangerous particulates.
Featured image via AirNow/Air Cast AQI.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.