EPA’s Top Tips for Breathing Easier in Hot, Smoky Conditions

According to doctors and researchers, the biggest health threat posed by breathing smoke is from the fine particles, which can lodge deep in the lungs, making it difficult or impossible for the lungs to expel them naturally over time. These microscopic particles can get in the eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, persistent coughing and can aggravate illnesses like asthma and bronchitis. Furthermore, fine smoke particles can exacerbate asthma and chronic heart and lung diseases, and are linked to premature deaths in people living with these conditions.

The EPA provides five tips for breathing easier.

  1. Prevent wildfires from burning: Prepare, build, maintain, and extinguish campfires safely. Be aware of “burn bans” in your area. Be careful to not drag trailer chains which can spark and ignite dry roadside brush.
  2. Check local air quality reports: Check out the Air Quality Index (AQI) for your community. Pay attention to public health messages about safety measures.
  3. Use common sense: If it looks smoky outside, it’s probably not a good time to mow the lawn, dig up that old irrigation line, or go for a run. Anything that causes you to breathe heavier will increase your exposure to fine smoke particles.
  4. If you are advised to stay indoors, stay indoors: Take steps to keep your indoor air as clean as possible. Avoid smoking and using wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves, and candles. 
  5. Follow your doctor’s advice: If you have asthma or other breathing impairment, closely follow your doctor’s advice about using your medication and following your asthma management plan. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
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