Concerned about smoke inhalation from the California wild fires?
You should be. The particles of liquid and solids that are suspended in the smoky air are so tiny they cannot be seen. They make their way down deep into the lungs where they can easily cross over into the bloodstream. The long-term health ramifications of continued exposure are not well known, however, those who suffer any respiratory ailments like asthma or COPD will feel it right away. Either way, it is best to limit exposure as much as possible by protecting yourself.
The air quality is the worst it has ever been in the Bay Area for the past few days since the fires started in Sonoma and Napa. The sky is hazy and has an odd, apocalyptic orange glow. I walked from my office a few blocks away today wearing my N95 mask. As I looked around, I saw people out and about, walking their dogs, running errands and working in their yards.
All without masks.
This is what not to do. I may look a little strange with a mad max respirator on my face but I know I’m well protected in the short-term. The wildfires can create many days in a row of bad air. You want to limit exposure as much as possible. It may seem silly to wear a mask just to take a short walk or to get the mail but trust me, your lungs will thank you.
Protection from wildfire smoke
If leaving the area is not an option then protection is your first line of defense.
- Find the filtered air. Go to the local library or shopping mall and hang out. Read a book, work on your laptop, window shop, see a movie. Get out of the bad air for as long as you can.
- Set your A/C on recirculation mode at home. This will help keep the air moving in your house and it will feel less stagnant.
- Masks and respirators labeled N95. They are supposed filter out 95% of particulate matter, although they may not filter gases. The trick is to make sure that the mask is well-fitting. Wear this whenever you go outside, even if it’s just to walk the dog.
- Wet rags, bandanas and surgical masks don’t do much. You need a filtration system between your lungs and the air you are breathing.
- Limit exercise. The more you move, the deeper you breath. Kids naturally breathe at a more rapid rate and they are typically always moving (at least my 5-year-old son is!). So save your hike or run for another time and go to an indoor gym instead.
- Stay inside as much as possible. Get an air purifier for your house or make your own with a box fan and a furnace filter. As of today, most of the stores in my county have sold out of box fans. I had to order my supplies next-day shipping on Amazon. The key here is to use the correct filter. Some furnace filters only filter out dust and do not filter out the particulate matter from the smoke. You want your filter to have a MERV rating of 11 or above. I ordered a 4-pack of FiilterBuy furnace filters that have a MERV rating of 13 just to be sure. Anything less than an 11 will not filter out smoke particles.
- If you are experiencing breathing problems, please see a doctor right away!
An acupuncture treatment can help. Treatment can bring down stress and help expand the lungs. You can also utilize nutritional and supplemental support to help your lungs and liver detox. Contact me with questions or book your appointment to come in!
If you are being directly affected by the fires, have lost your home or have close family or friends who have lost their homes and you are currently housing victims, your treatment is free. Please contact me with details of your situation and we will get you on the schedule.