It feels amazing to take a nice deep breath and open all the windows on these good air days! Have you been feeling the effects of the bad air quality these past couple months? It’s been especially rough for people already struggling with migraines, allergies and lung issues like asthma.
Last week in particular I was feeling tired and unwell, and almost panicked about needing some fresh air. Since these devastating fires started in August, I’ve gotten into the habit of checking the air quality everyday to decide how much time I can spend outside and if I can open the windows.
Denver has struggled with air quality issues for decades. Even without active wildfires, we face many days throughout the year with high levels of ozone and particulates in the air. Bad air quality can make you feel sick and tired and also has long term repercussions for your lungs and heart.
A big danger with wildfire smoke is the tiny particles in the air that are 2.5 micrometers in diameter. These cause the hazy look in the atmosphere that reduces visibility. These particulates get lodged in your respiratory tract and then enter your bloodstream, causing negative effects that can last weeks. When you check the air quality index, look for the PM2.5 rating, which will let you know if they are at unsafe levels.
*Check the AQI like you’re checking the weather to determine how much time you can spend outside each day. Air quality can change throughout the day, too, so keep that in mind. You can check the air quality at AirNow*If you can, keep your windows closed on bad air days. Open them up and air things out when the particulate counts go back down.
*If you stocked up on PM2.5 mask filter inserts for coronavirus protection, you can also use them for wildfire smoke.
*Use a HEPA air purifier in your bedroom and keep it running all day with the windows closed. Look for one with a HEPA filter that says it filters smoke particles. This can keep you safe from breathing in the harmful particulates while you sleep. FYI, Consumer Reports advises to not buy one that lists a room size of less than 150sq/ft since they don’t seem to perform as well.
*Support your body with supplements. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that will help your body repair from damage caused by pollution. I also like Host Defense brand medicinal mushrooms. I take the My Community blend. Mushrooms are traditionally used in Chinese medicine benefit the lungs, heart, and immune system.
I know that spending time outside seeing friends and family, exercising or going into nature is a major source of stress relief, and I’m sure missing it. But I do think it’s important to avoid being outside much when the pollution is bad.