California Uber Drivers Selling Respirator Masks for Huge Profit Amid Wildfire Smoke

Of course, surge pricing still applies.

byChris Tsui|
California Uber Drivers Selling Respirator Masks for Huge Profit Amid Wildfire Smoke

As California's wildfires continue to burn, residents of neighboring cities find themselves having to cope with some seriously dirty, unhealthy air. One enterprising Uber driver has seemingly spotted a business opportunity amid the smoke. 

Spotted by Recode, one driver in San Francisco appears to be selling N95 respirator masks from the back of his Honda Civic, albeit with a significant markup. While a 10-pack of 3M masks currently goes for $13.75 on Amazon, this ride-share driver is hocking 'em for $5 per mask. Talk about surge pricing.

Considering these masks are reportedly "sold out at many local stores," we're not entirely sure whether this should be seen as malicious or altruistic. 

In any case, California recorded particulate levels of 1,500 micrograms per cubic meter last week, 60 times that of the World Health Organization's standard threshold of 25. As of Monday morning, San Francisco indicated a reading of 55, still more than double that of the accepted standard.

So far, Camp Fire in Butte County has resulted in 77 deaths, 150,000 acres of land burnt, and 993 people unaccounted for. It's 65 percent contained and is expected to be fully contained by month's end. Evacuation warnings have recently been lifted for a number of areas.

Without protection from a mask (or staying indoors), particulates in the air caused by wildfires can irritate the eyes, lungs, and nose. 

Even though heavy rain is in the forecast for later this week, the dirty air is expected to remain after the fires have been stopped. Not great for the average Californian. Pretty great for respirator mask manufacturers and retailers—official or otherwise.