NEW YORK – On a drive from Queens to Manhattan this week the city skyline was visibly choked out by wild fire smoke. One of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the Empire State Building, was barely a silhouette in the blanketing haze.
By Wednesday, rain helped clear up the air, but the fires out west and up north in Canada still present a lingering problem especially during these hot and humid days.
And that could create health risks for everyone – particularly for people with underlying conditions, says NYU Langone Health cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Newman.
“Raise your blood pressure, they can cause your heart rate to go up, they can do different things to the way your blood clots, or doesn’t clot or the levels of inflammation,” said Newman.
Limiting time outdoors could be helpful if another plume of smoke makes its way across the country as dry conditions and months of drought keep the threat of wildfires high in the United States.
And, we asked him if there’s any benefit to putting our masks back on while outside.
“I don’t think we have evidence yet to suggest that wearing those N- 95 masks for everyone would be helpful,” said Newman. “Though researchers are looking into whether air purifiers in our bedrooms at night would be helpful.”
The bootleg fire in Oregon is now the worst of nearly 80 major wildfires in the U.S.
Many people have turned to apps like IQAir.com to get more specific information about air pollution conditions in their exact location.
“It tells you which hyperlocal (weather) station is nearest to you,” said Dolphin Hammes, CEO. “So you can see the nearest station and from there, you can determine how clean or how dirty your air quality is.”
No matter what, Newman says regular physical activity is the best health advice to protect the body against conditions like this. Just be careful how much time you spend outside on the hazy days.