According to Canadian officials, this year is set to be one of that country’s worst years in recorded history for wildfires. With 2,300 wildfires before the summer solstice and up to 9 million acres of land burnt thus far, and ongoing. New York City was ranked as having the worst air quality in the world in early June. Many scientists and air quality experts are warning that events like we’ve experienced recently due to wildfires are likely to occur more often.
Exposure to wildfire smoke and other pollutants means increased potential for inhaling or absorbing toxins that are embedded in the fumes and smoke. When air quality is poor, we take in those toxins as we breathe, through our skin, through our hair, and even on food and beverages that were exposed to the tiny toxic particles in the air.
Here are some simple tips everyone can use to minimize the exposure to and the impacts of air pollution.
Stay Inside When Air Quality Is Poor
Stay inside as much as you can. Or course, staying inside is easier said than done – you have life to do with work, family, and school. If possible, request working from home and consider having the children stay home from school. Those temporary changes alone can greatly diminish the possibility of toxin exposure through breathing, skin, clothes, and hair.
If you’re not certain about air quality in your area, here’s a tool for reference: visit the AirNow website, the official reporting tool for the U.S. Air Quality Index. It’s ad-free and all you have to do is enter your zip code.
If it is necessary to step outside, wear a mask with a built-in air filter. These masks are designed to filter out pollutants, ensuring the wearer does not inhale any toxins that may linger even days after the smoke subsides. Unfortunately, the medical N95 masks that we have been accustomed to wearing are not able to filter out all particles from wildfire smoke but wearing any kind of mask is likely better than no mask at all.
Protect Your Living Space
In order to lower the risk of spreading toxins throughout the home, it's recommended to remove the clothes worn outside as soon as possible. We also suggest showering and washing your hair before laying or sitting on furniture. You don’t want to share your pillow with PM2.5, the particle found in smoke and soot that can get into the lungs and bloodstream to cause various health problems.
This time of the year, windows are open and air conditioning is on blast. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, shutting the windows and turning off the AC until the smoke clears can lower the risk of the toxins entering your home. The filtering system in most air conditioners is not designed to catch the tiniest toxic particles. Shutting down the air conditioner and using a fan will help minimize exposure to the toxic air outside your home. Please note: as summer temperatures sore to dangerous levels, you may consider running your air conditioner periodically to keep indoor temperatures at a safe level.
Use An Air Purifier
There are air filters on that market that are effective at purifying the air quality of indoor spaces. Not to be confused with dehumidifiers, which take moisture from the air in order to lower humidity, air purifiers are made with activated carbon filters in order to eliminate odors, allergens…and toxic particles. Electrostatic filters use a charge to attract and charge particles to be washed off or disposed of.
A high-quality air purifier with a HEPA filter removes airborne pollutants and particles from your home or workspace. HEPA filters are efficient in capturing tiny particles, with a minimum efficiency of 99.97% for particles as small as 0.3 microns. They're effective for removing allergens and other microscopic pollutants, making air purifiers with that type of filter an effective way to reduce your family’s exposure to harmful particles commonly found in wildfire smoke.
House Plants Naturally Filter Our Air
Another effective way of filtering air is by incorporating house plants into your indoor décor. You don’t have to have a green thumb for the majority of these plants. Snake plants, aloe vera, peace lilies and other varieties are easy to grow and maintain, and help purify indoor air by removing toxins and improving air quality.
Snake plants are excellent air purifiers that release oxygen at night while absorbing toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene. They are low-maintenance and can thrive in various lighting conditions.
Aloe vera not only has medicinal properties but also helps improve indoor air quality. It releases oxygen at night, absorbs formaldehyde, and is easy to care for.
Peace lilies are known for their ability to remove common indoor air pollutants, including formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. They also add a touch of elegance with beautiful white blooms.
Consume Airway-Friendly Teas & Herbs
Eucalyptus is known for its expectorant properties and helps clear mucus from the airways. Used in an aromatic tea or as an essential oil, eucalyptus can help clear congestion and soothe mild respiratory issues that may occur when air quality is poor.
Peppermint contains natural menthol, which has a cooling and numbing effect and can soothe irritation in the airways while it creates a sensation of improved airflow. Enjoy peppermint in a tea or add a few drops of peppermint oil to hot water and inhale the steam.
Ginger is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This tasty and unmistakably aromatic root can assist in reducing mucus and congestion in the airways. Brew ginger tea using fresh ginger root or use ginger in a home-cooked meal.
Remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Adequate hydration helps your body by producing a thin, fluid-like mucus in the respiratory system. That makes it easier to expel mucus - and the toxic particles trapped in that mucus - from the airways, reducing the risk of buildup, congestion and absorption of the harmful particles. The tissues in the lungs require moisture for optimal function and well-hydrated lungs are more efficient at oxygenating the blood and removing waste products.
Take Your Supplements
Pure Essentials focuses on solutions derived from quality, natural ingredients and by following the latest science. These are some of the products we’ve designed to support your lung health:
NAC is a precursor to glutathione, a substance produced in the liver that is vital to immune system function. This supplement helps break down mucus, making it easier to cough up. Expelling that mucus helps remove toxins and germs from the lungs.
This formula was originally formulated to protect the liver from environmental effects. It also has Vitamins E & D and CoQ10 to stimulate energy production and cell repair while protecting cells from free radical damage. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce lung inflammation while enhancing our own defense mechanisms against respiratory pathogens.
Vitamin C powder with buffering minerals helps protect delicate cells that protect the blood vessels from free radical and toxin damage. Vitamin C increases nitrous oxide in our systems and effectively works as nature’s vacuum cleaner to “suck the issues from the tissues”.
Quercetin is shown to enhance the absorption of Vitamin C. It also has antiviral, antioxidant and antihistamine effects, while promoting pain relief and encouraging cell repair.