With the fire fighters’ success in controlling local fires this week, the new focus will be the fire aftermath. We need to look towards the future needs and challenges in our communities. For many Northern California residents, it is going to be difficult winter. Of course there is the challenge of finding new homes Some will need to rebuild homes and businesses or repair standing structures. For those house still standing in the highest hit areas, smoke damage is going to be heavy.
In addition, people exposed to the smoke are at risk to experience very real and persistent health challenges. First of all, we must protect the most vulnerable in our communities; the very young, the very old, and those with lung or heart conditions. People with allergies, bronchitis, recurrent pneumonia, asthma, COPD and any type of heart disease can experience worsening of their condition. As we move into colder and wetter weather, symptoms could become even worse.
The smoke from the fires is a combination of irritating particles and damaging gases. Because the smoke in many areas largely came from building, all the chemicals in the building materials became volatile. That means those dangerous chemicals were in the smoke and so in the air people breath. According to the National Center for Healthy Housing these are some of the toxic compounds found in building materials:
- Chromated copper arsenic (CCA) in pressure treated wood
- Perfluorinated compounds, including PFOA
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
- Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs)
- Additional Resources
The Health Conditions
Furthermore, the people with lung and heart conditions are not the only ones negatively effected. Your health can also take a downward course if you have an autoimmune disease. In fact, any chronic illness can be negatively impacted. The elevated levels of PM2.5—very small bits of liquids and solids suspended in the air, is part of the problem. Particles this small escape the lungs filtration system and enter the blood stream. As a result, the chemicals listed above are embedded into these tiny particles. That means these dangerous compounds have found a way in to the most vulnerable parts of your body. You can experience inflammation in your heart, your kidneys, your liver, and your lungs.
- Stay hydrated, sipping hot water can be more pleasant as temperatures drop
- Rest and actively address stress. You can’t control the stressors but a few deep breaths of clean air every hour can reduce your stress response
- Invest in a good air filter. A good HEPA Air Purifier uses multi-stage air purification methods to remove different size of impurities (dust, pet hairs, odor, PM 2.5, bacteria etc.) at different stages.
- Avoid sugar and processed foods
- If you are experiencing increased lung congestion avoid mucus forming foods: gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and oranges
- Make soups with your protein of choice and any combo of: garlic, onions, ginger, rosemary, thyme, oregano, turmeric and spicy chilies
- Drink teas including; chamomile, throat coat, peppermint, licorice, ginger, cinnamon, and immune combos
- Take extra anti-oxidants including vitamin C, Vitamin E, N-acytle-cysteine, liposomal glutathione
- Share and openly express care and love for others. It is a tender time for all of us.