WEB EXCLUSIVE Today marks the record-breaking 38th consecutive spare the air day from the recent wildfires that have created unhealthy air quality.
“I feel like the smoke has been unhealthy for so long,” junior Mia Sassi said. “It’s definitely been hard to stay inside all day especially with Corona.”
Wildfire smoke is a combination of gasses and fine particles from burned plants, trees, building materials and a variety of other materials. While children and those with preexisting health conditions can be especially vulnerable, a high concentration of smoke can affect anyone.
Smoke can cause a variety of symptoms including coughing, headaches, chest pains and irritated eyes. The microparticles in the smoke cause this reaction by settling deep into the lungs and causing inflammation according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
“The smoke has affected my social life because I used to do outdoor activities,” senior Sarah El Qadad said. “The smoke is not tolerable and super unhealthy so I’ve had to cancel all of my plans.”
The CDC suggests people stay inside, with windows and doors closed, and check the air quality index often. When going outside, N95 masks and other respirator masks will filter out the microparticles in the smoke.
“The N95 masks are constructed to keep out 95% of the particles 0.3 microns or larger,” science teacher Alison Lovejoy said. “The cloth masks most of us are wearing have tiny pores in them which allow things to get in and out.”
There are a wide range of air filters which increase indoor air quality if exposed to the smoke. Many air purifiers come with a clean air delivery rate which recommends which filter to get based on the room size, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
As onshore winds come in today and throughout the week, the smoke may begin to clear out slowly, but the air is not likely to fully dissipate with smoke off the coast for hundreds of miles.
“I’m hoping that the smoke will improve soon,” Sassi said. “My thoughts are with those affected by the wildfires.”