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How to Protect Yourself From the Worst Effects of Poor Air Quality

These have been difficult days for many in the northeastern United States as smoke from the Canadian wildfires settles in the region and quickly creates dangerous air quality conditions in New York; Washington DC; Philadelphia; Baltimore; and many more cities.

As of early Wednesday morning, New York City has the second highest air quality and pollution in the world (after Delhi, India), and the unfortunate reality is that climate change suggests there will be many more weather events like this occur. To that end, Vogue spoke to Columbia University otolaryngologist David Gudis, MD, to find out how we can best protect ourselves from airborne smoke and particles violation. Read his answer below:

Vogue: How can people in the Northeastern United States best protect themselves outdoors?

David Gudis: Unfortunately, prevention is the best Good medicine, it’s better to be indoors with windows closed and air conditioner on than to be outside. If someone must be outside, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, a common piece of cloth or hood, or even a common face mask may not have a high enough filtering capacity to keep some particles from the smoke from entering the airways – that is, if someone is concerned, or if they do have some pre-existing Respiratory ailments like asthma or severe allergies are easily triggered by particles like this, then masks like KN95 or N would be ideal. The other thing I would say is if someone does have some sort of pre-existing respiratory condition like asthma and they need to go out, that’s when they should be absolutely sure to use their maintenance inhaler, maybe even their rescue inhalers, or with them, as people with this condition can be easily triggered by fumes.

You mentioned air filters; do you have any other thoughts on how to make the indoor environment as safe as possible?

yes: keep windows closed, central air on, and when it comes to air purifiers, HEPA filters are the highest efficiency filtration for removing fine particles device, so it works best.



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