Why does air quality matter? Nearby wildfires, a cause of asthma triggers.
Asthma is one of the most common diseases in children. In the U.S., more than 25 million people are known to have asthma, 7 million of whom are children (NHLBI, 2012a). Asthma can be controlled by knowing the warning signs of an attack, staying away from triggers that can cause an attack, and following advice from your physician. When asthma is controlled, an individual (CDC, 2014):
Won’t have symptoms such as wheezing or coughing
Will sleep better
Won’t miss work or school
Can take part in physical activities
Won’t have to go to the hospital.
To learn more about asthma in Utah, visit the Utah Department of Health Asthma Program.
Asthma and Air Pollution
Outdoor air pollution, including smoke from nearby wildfires, can be a trigger for an asthma attack. Air pollution can come from factories, cars, and other sources (CDC, 2014). High levels of air pollution directly affect individuals with asthma, COPD, and other lung and heart conditions. Both particulate matter and ozone can cause damage to lung tissue and aggravate the symptoms of existing respiratory diseases like asthma (UDOH, 2014b). Keeping track of the air quality through the use of the air quality index will help individuals with respiratory diseases plan or modify their activities and exertion levels accordingly.
Even healthy people should avoid exercising outside if smoke is heavy. People with asthma, COPD, and heart disease should try to stay indoors, should keep the windows closed, and should turn off ventilation systems that bring in outside air without filtration. If they have filter systems, then make sure that they’re HEPA filters (high-efficiency particle air) filters. If they have to go outside, wear an n95 or m100 mask which are the kinds of masks used at hospitals to protect healthcare workers from occupational transmission of tuberculosis and those masks may be available in hardware stores, home building stores, pharmacies, or online.
For current air quality conditions in the Basin, visit air.utah.gov.
For more information on health conditions, including asthma, contact the TriCounty Health Department, 435-247-1168.