Just how dangerous is poor air quality for our health? And how do pollutants make their way into our bodies?
Heather Kimmel is the Director of Health Promotion at the American Lung Association in Boise. She says that smoke from wildfires is especially dangerous because of how tiny the particles are.
“The particles we have problems with from wildfire smoke are about 1/5 to 1/7 the diameter of a human hair,” Kimmel says.
Because of their size, the particles can get lodged in our lungs, and can even make their way into our bloodstream.
And that can lead to some serious health problems.
“We know that exposure to wildfire smoke and particle pollution can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes and also exacerbate underlying heart and lung disease,” Kimmel explains.
For information on local air quality, AirNow.gov regularly updates pollution levels. Kimmel says it’s especially important for vulnerable populations, like the elderly and pregnant women, to track air quality in their area.
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