Millions of Americans are seeing an eerie fog looming overhead, smelling smoke, and hearing about CODE RED air quality alerts.
And the scene here in New York City is like straight out of a movie. An ominous dark cloud is steadily taking over. It’s eerie and makes many of us wonder…
Is it SAFE to lead our normal lives right now?
So, let’s take a look at the facts.
Because while people across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are already dealing with unhealthy breathing conditions… the fires are still burning, meaning MILLIONS MORE could be affected in the days, perhaps weeks, ahead.
And the truth is, smoke-polluted air is even more toxic than the typical air pollution that I routinely warn you about…
Dangerous for everyone
Wildfire smoke has the ability to linger for weeks and travel hundreds of miles. And that’s bad news—as it contains multiple hazardous chemicals from burning through basically anything and everything in its path…
Metals, plastics, gas, and much more.
In fact, smoke-polluted air consists of tiny particulate matter called PM2.5. And according to the Environmental Health Agency, they’re considered the “greatest health concern” since they can travel DEEP into the respiratory tract.
And the longer you’re exposed, the greater the health risk.
Laboratory experiments show that even short-term exposure can lead to higher rates of inflammation and tissue damage than normal air pollution.
Not to mention, inhalation increases risk of fatal heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest—and can cause skin and eye irritation. Other health effects include coughing, wheezing, headaches, and more.
Vulnerable populations—like seniors, pregnant women, and young children—are most at risk. That includes anyone with chronic heart or lung conditions, like asthma, COPD, or atrial fibrillation—as smoke inhalation can exacerbate symptoms.
But reports show prolonged exposure to this apocalyptic haze is dangerous to EVERYONE, even healthy, younger folks.
Here’s how you can help protect yourself—and your loved ones…
Easy-to-follow safety tips
First and foremost, continue paying attention to those air quality alerts. For many people, the weather app on your smartphone can give you an accurate update. You can also tune into the local news or check out the website, AirNow.gov.
Then, retreat indoors as much as possible until the smoke-polluted air lifts. Be sure to keep your windows closed and your air conditioner (or fans) running.
And to ensure clean indoor air, make sure to change the filter in your furnace. You may also consider purchasing an air purifier, preferably one that’s HEPA-based, to reduce airborne particles.
If you must go outside, pull out your supply of masks and put one on to lessen the particulate matter you’re inhaling. N95s are ideal, as they can filter tiny particles—like PM2.5.
And be sure to use the recirculation button on the ventilation system in your car to help keep the smoke-polluted air outside.
Stay safe out there!
“Wildfire Smoke.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (cdc.gov/disasters/wildfires/smoke.html)
“What are the health risks from wildfire smoke?” Reuters, 06/07/2023. (reuters.com/world/americas/what-are-health-risks-wildfire-smoke-2023-06-07/)
“N95 Masks Helped Protect Against the Coronavirus. They Also Work Against Wildfire Smoke.” The New York Times, 06/07/2023. (nytimes.com/2023/06/07/us/masks-wildfire-smoke-air-quality.html)