LUNG HEALTH

HOW DOES POLLUTION AFFECT MY HEALTH? 

Air pollution can make it harder for people with asthma and other respiratory (breathing) diseases to breathe. It can also be harmful to heart health and may make it more likely that some people will have a heart attack or stroke. 

Children and teens may be more sensitive than adults to the health effects caused by air pollution — especially children with asthma.

WHAT IS PARTICLE POLLUTION?

Coarse (bigger) particles, called PM10, can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. Dust from roads, farms, dry riverbeds, construction sites, and mines are types of PM10.

 

Fine (smaller) particles, called PM2.5, are more dangerous because they can get into the deep parts of your lungs — or even into your blood. Smoke from fires and emissions (releases) from power plants, industrial facilities, and cars and trucks contain PM2.5.

Breathing in particle pollution, also referred to as particulate matter, can be harmful to your health. Particle pollution can affect anyone, but it bothers some people more than others: 

  • People with heart or lung diseases (asthma, COPD etc.) 

  • Older adults 

  • Babies and children

(Source: CDC)

WHY IS WILDFIRE SMOKE DANGEROUS?

 

Wildfire smoke is a mixture of gas and particulate matter made up of anything from acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, soil or dust particles, and allergens (such as fragments of pollen or mold spores). (Source: AirNow.gov) 

 

Wildfire smoke can be extremely harmful to the lungs, especially for children, older adults and those with asthma, COPD and bronchitis or a chronic heart disease or diabetes. The particle pollution triggers asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes, and can even cause death. (Source: American Lung Association) 

ACTIVITIES TO AVOID DURING UNHEALTHY AIR QUALITY EVENTS

During wildfire events and days of high pollution, you can help by avoiding activities that add more smoke or dust into the air we breathe.

Lawn Mower Selection Support

Do not use lawn equipment that may put more pollution from motors, dust, or ash into the air.

Landscaping
Camp Fire

Burning anything, even dry wood in an outdoor fire pit, creates harmful smoke. Visit AirQuality.org to see which burning activities are illegal in Sacramento County.

Burning
Construction Tools

Postpone or limit dirt-moving activities at construction sites. If a project must continue, make sure to use low speeds and prevent dust with water or other methods.

Construction
Hamburgers in Grill

Avoid any outdoor cooking that produces smoke

Outdoor Cooking

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF AND MY FAMILY?

The good news is there’s a lot you can do to protect yourself and your family from the health effects caused by particle pollution. Start by learning about the Air Quality Index from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Air Quality Index (AQI)

The EPA Air Quality Index (AQI) tells you when air pollution is likely to reach levels that could be harmful. You can use the AQI as a tool to help you avoid particle pollution.

Local TV stations, radio programs, and newspapers report the AQI. Try checking it when you’re planning your daily activities. 

Steps to Take:

When particle pollution levels are high, take steps to limit the amount of air you breathe in while you’re outside.

For example:

  • Think about spending more time indoors, where particle pollution levels are usually lower.

  • Choose easier outdoor activities (like walking instead of running) so you don’t breathe as hard.

  • Avoid busy roads and highways where PM is usually worse because of emissions from cars and trucks.

For current information on fires, smoke and air quality, visit EPA’s AirNow website.

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Since 1917, Breathe California Sacramento Region has been advocating for clean air and healthy lungs through education, community involvement and creative solutions to impact policy.