What the heck is in the air?
Smoke is made up of a complex mixture of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, very very small particulate matter, hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides, and trace minerals. Small particles are inhaled into the deepest recesses of the lung and over long term this exposure can injure the lungs and heart. Carbon monoxide and other harmful gasses are the other big concern. When we breathe in fresh air, our incredible lungs take oxygen and exchange it for carbon dioxide, a metabolic waste product. If carbon monoxide and other harmful gasses are a large part of what we are breathing IN, those toxic pollutants make it into our bloodstream and circulate throughout our body.
What can I do about it?
Some populations are more at risk than others when it comes to smoke exposure - these include children, elderly folks, and those with asthma and other conditions affecting the lungs and heart. These folks should avoid exposure to smoke as much as possible.
1) Understand the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI is a color-coded system that let's you know how healthy the air is outside.
2) Stay informed about the air quality throughout the summer and fall. Idaho Conservation League suggests a handful of helpful resources in their Wildfire Protection Plan Worksheet. Most weather apps also report air quality.
3) Reduce your exposure! Stay inside and keep your windows and doors closed. If you have an air filter use it. If you are going to be outside for a period of time, wear a protective mask- N95 masks protect you from smaller particulates in the air.
4) Reduce your exposure to other pollutants. This includes candles, tobacco, vacuum dust, chemical cleaners, fragrances, etc.
5) Protect and cleanse your lungs with medicinal herbs. Mullein leaf, peppermint leaf, licorice root, marshmallow root, and osha root help to strengthen, protect and moisten the lungs. Milk thistle seed, dandelion root and burdock root helps your body detox those nasty pollutants. Check out this blog post for even more helpful plants to protect your lungs.
6) Drink plenty of water to help your body flush out toxins and stay hydrated.