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Actually, Don’t Take My Breath Away. How to Navigate This Summer’s Wildfires.

Jul 5th, 2023 by Dr. Emily D'Adamo

In early June, we saw air pollution levels skyrocket in the face of Canadian wildfires, and experts warn us to prepare for their return.

Here in Connecticut, every time I stepped outside, I was confronted with a thick, dense air that burned my eyes supremely. With that, I quickly became vigilant about masking and minimizing my time outside.

Side note, by the end of the week of smoke avoidance, I had an unusual sense of tension. It all made sense when I realized I hadn’t spent any length of time outside! A true testament to how important nature time is for my sense of ease and comfort in this industrialized world.

The first thing I recommend becoming acquainted with is the air quality index (AQI for short). 

This can often be found in the ‘weather’ app on your phone or by visiting this site. The AQI is broken down by a range of numbers:

  • 0-50: Good. Air quality is satisfactory and presents little risk.
  • 51-100: Moderate. Air quality is acceptable, but this may be a risk for some people, especially those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
  • 101-150: Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public, however, may not be.
  • 151-200: Some members of the public may experience health effects, and those in sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
  • 201-300: Health alert: the risk of health effects is increased for everyone.
  • 301 and higher: Health warning of emergency conditions; everyone is more likely to be affected.

The last round of wildfires had us hovering at the 201-300 range, where everyone was at risk for experiencing effects of the poor air quality.

The next thing on your preparedness list ought to be proper air filtration and inhalation prevention. 

This can look like:

  • A thick-walled mask (like an N95) to blunt big particles from passing through.
  • Avoidance of exposure.
  • Indoor air filtration. You can grab an industrial air filter and tape it to a box fan for a pretty great DIY system.

To support your lungs from the inside, I recommend Redoxa for its two key ingredients: NAC and traditional lung herb, Marrubium.

NAC, or N-acetyl cysteine, is a key amino acid for lung health for a number of its properties, including:

  • Promotion of mucus clearance: NAC has been known to break the disulfide bonds in mucus to thin this lung secretion and promote its expectoration.
  • Antioxidant: NAC is a precursor to glutathione, the master antioxidant. Glutathione plays a crucial role in protecting the lungs from oxidative stress, which can occur due to various factors like environmental pollution, cigarette smoke, or infections.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Respiratory irritants like particulates found in the air can induce inflammation of the bronchioles. NAC may help to reduce this inflammation.

Then, there’s Marrubium, an herb also known as Horehound. This herb is classified as an expectorant, meaning it promotes the expulsion of mucus from the respiratory system. It can help to thin and loosen phlegm, making it easier to cough up and clear the airways. It’s also got some great antioxidant and anti-inflammatories on its own.

As we continue through this particularly rough wildfire season, I urge all of my patients to be proactive. That means keeping tabs on the AQI, using proper protection and avoidance (there will be beautiful days in the future for you to play outside, I promise!), and supplementing wisely. We’ll get through this!

Dr. Emily D’Adamo is a Staff Physician at the Center for Generative Medicine in Norwalk, Connecticut. Dr. D’s deepest love lies in precision medicine – the practice of delivering healthcare that accounts for individual variances in genomics, environments and microbiomes. With precision medicine, patient-centeredness is the core philosophy; no two individuals are alike, and the care they receive reflects that.