This month, A Code Red Air Quality Alert was issued for several states from the Midwest to the East Coast due to the ongoing wildfires in Canada. If you had been outdoors at any point during that time, you were likely able to see a haze in the air and smell the smoke as well.
Wildfire smoke carries particulate matter, or PM2.5 – a tiny but dangerous pollutant that, when inhaled, can travel deep into lung tissue and enter the bloodstream, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The particulate matter has been linked to a number of health problems including asthma, heart disease and other respiratory illnesses.
A Code Red Air Quality Alert indicates that air quality has reached hazardous levels and poses a significant risk to public health, particularly for sensitive groups, which include children, the elderly, and people suffering from asthma, heart disease, and lung diseases. Some adverse health effects may include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing; phlegm; chest tightness; and shortness of breath. The effects of this air pollution can be minimized by limiting time spent outdoors, staying indoors with the air conditioning running or wearing an N95 mask if you have to be outside for prolonged periods.
Residents are encouraged to check www.AirNow.gov for current conditions in their area.