This week, areas throughout the MidAtlantic are being impacted by poor air quality. Large uncontrolled wildfires in Nova Scotia have produced a significant smoke plume causing elevated unhealthy fine particles readings registering on the Air Quality Index. The air quality can be unhealthy for sensitive groups, including children, older adults, and people with lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The American Lung Association offers these five tips for people to avoid lung irritation and health complications due to increased air pollution:
- Stay indoors. People living close to the fire-stricken areas should remain indoors and avoid breathing smoke, ashes and other pollution in the area.
- Protect the air in your home. Keep doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut and preferably with clean air circulating through air conditioners on the recirculation setting.
- Keep an eye on symptoms. Higher levels of smoke in some areas can make breathing more difficult. If you are experiencing symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.
- Take precautions for kids. Extra precautions should be taken for children and teens, who are more susceptible to smoke. Their lungs are still developing, and they breathe in more air (and consequently more pollution) for their size than adults.
- Ask for help. The American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA is staffed by nurses and respiratory therapists and is a free resource to answer any questions about the lungs, lung disease and lung health, including how to protect yourself during wildfires.