A hazy golden veil of smoke is painting the skies of the U.S., prompting the issuance of poor air quality alerts for millions of Americans as the impact of more than 430 active wildfires in Canada continues to spread. On Wednesday, New York City had the worst air quality in the world. More specifically, the normal Air Quality Index is approximately 50. Brooklyn and Queens measured 413 and 407, respectively, according to New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
Today, the smoke persists across the Northeast, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic regions, affecting major metro area cities, such as Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C. “The basics of it is: If you don’t have to be outside, then don’t be outside. And if you do need to be outside, then to wear a mask and limit your exposure,” said DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, per a CNN report.
The Health Impact & Some Useful Tips
Wildfire smoke can have a detrimental impact on cardiovascular and respiratory heath, as it contains lightweight particulates, known as PM2.5, that can travel deep into the lungs and blood stream, making it particularly dangerous for people with COPD, asthma, heart disease, or who are pregnant.
According to the CDC, a few mitigating strategies to employ to protect yourself from smoke include:
- Staying in a room that you close off from outside air.
- Consider setting up a portable air filter. Though note: Never leave a DIY filtration unit unattended.
- Wear a mask – one that fits tightly to your face – to reduce the smoke you breathe in.
- If your home has a central air conditioning system, use high efficiency filters to capture the aforementioned fine particles found in the smoke. If said system has a fresh air intake, set the system to recirculate mode or shut down the outdoor intake damper.
- If you have heart or lung problems, consider asking your doctor if it’s safe for you to wear a respirator.
- Listen to your body – if you’re experiencing any concerning symptoms, immediately seek medical attention.
Take tuned to DocWire News for continued coverage of the wildfire smoke sweeping much of the nation, and always keep safe!