As I write, the Okanagan Valley is filled with the acrid smoke that we have endured for seven days. Environment Canada has issued daily advisories about reducing outdoor activities, but has written nothing about preventing the smoke from entering our lungs in the first place.
If you can smell smoke, it is particulate, and if it is particulate, the deeper you breathe, the deeper it will descend into the lungs and begin making its way into the tiny alveoli (hollow spaces), where it could accumulate, and cause more serious conditions.
And yet our streets have joggers, cyclists and pedestrians – mouths agape – moving around as if a brilliant sun in a clear blue sky were visible overhead.
In the winter, when the temperature here dips down to minus 30, there are all kinds of official warnings about being appropriately clothed for the weather. But for smoke? Nothing other than to, “be careful.”
How about putting on a mask? A mask would prevent much of that particulate-laden smoke from reaching our nose and mouth in the first place. A really simple, inexpensive solution.
I often wonder why no one at Environment Canada encourages us to wear a mask when smoke fills our air? A mask should be our first line of defense against such an insidious problem. Either that, or become a “smoke bird” and flee to the coast for a couple of months – every summer.