July 19, 2021
While it can be easy to view extreme weather events as only impacting the outdoor space, this is far from the truth. When natural disasters hit, they affect our indoor air quality (IAQ) and can increase the risk of health conditions. In fact, in 2020, “36 counties in Washington, Oregon, and California experienced very unhealthy air quality ratings due to particulate matter from wildfire season,” according to NPR’s analysis of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data.
Think of it this way: Wildfires not only produce smoke outdoors, but they are made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles. PM2.5, otherwise known as fine particulate matter, can make its way inside your home if you don’t have proper air filters to recirculate the air or air cleaners to reduce indoor air particle levels. On the other end of the spectrum, moisture from hurricanes can seep into your walls and carpets. Aside from damaging homes, mold spores pose health risks, including stuffy nose or dry/itchy eyes. Unfortunately, for those with asthma, there may be more intense reactions, such as shortness of breath and chest tightness.
To get ahead of hurricane and wildfire seasons, you can take specific actions to protect the breathing quality for you and your family. Check out these recommendations to keep your home pollution-free, even if you’re not physically located in an immediate evacuation zone.
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In an interview with NPR, dust expert Heather Stapleton confirms that “[our] understanding of how much dust a person is exposed to is very limited.” It seems there may be more to dust than we realize — even though these particles play a major role in our health. To help you get a few facts straight, we rounded up three more little known facts about dust: