7 Ways to Stay Healthy During Smog Season

The thick greenish haze hovering over northern Utah causes a range of respiratory problems for its residents every year. Starting in December, the state’s inversion causes Utahns to inhale dust, pesticides, and smog particles as warmer, polluted air remains trapped by the atmosphere’s colder air until March. While the inversion and smog are both natural phenomena, the smog occurring in Utah is exacerbated by the increased number of vehicles on the road due to the state’s fast-growing population. There will be a 66% in crease in the next 40 years or 5.5. Million residents by 2060, according to the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. Smog – air pollutants created by the burning of fossil fuels – cause short and long-term health risks like asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks, and lung cancer. Air pollution in Utah is responsible for 2,500 to 8,000 premature deaths each year. To support clearer airways, I’ve compiled a list of 7 ways to stay healthy during the smog season.

Stay indoors as much as possible.

Dorothy knew what she was talking about when she kept muttering “there’s no place like home.” Staying at home as much as possible is the best way to avoid inhal ing polluted air. Inside, you are the only one responsible for making sure you have clean air quality by changing out those furnace filters and dusting off those book shelves, so let’s get moving!

Wear a well-filtered mask.
Am I really recommending wearing masks after how much strife has been caused by those ear-squeezing, nasal-blocking contraptions? ABSOLUTELY. Masks like N95s were made to filter fine particulate matter so there’s no better mechanism to protect your lungs than a well-filtered mask if you find yourself needing to go outside.

Stay hydrated.
“Hydrate or DIE-drate” as the millennials say! But really, drinking lots of water helps your body push out pollutants that have found their way into your bloodstream, keeping you not only well hydrated but ALIVE.

Check daily air quality projections.
There are professionals who have made it their mission to keep you informed so you can live your life to the fullest. So the least you can do is commend their hard work by seeing whether it's a good or bad idea to go hiking today. After all, they do tell you so.

Walk, bike, or carpool.
Although the annual ‘Clear The Air’ Challenge has moved to July doesn’t mean you can’t set your own personal goals for the month. It’s more important than ever to reduce our carbon footprints so future generations won’t have to live through intense air pollution like we’re experiencing right now. And who knows, if we work hard enough, maybe we’ll be able to experience a bit of their future too.

Eat lung-friendly foods like apples, carrots, and ginger.

Did you know there are certain fruits and vegetables we can eat that act as anti-inflammatories and can relax our blood vessels to increase oxygen uptake? Turmer ic, beetroots, garlic, and ginger are a few foods out of many that we can add to our daily diet to combat the effect of pollutants in our lungs.

Avoid wood-burning appliances.
One of my favorite times of the year is when temperatures drop so I can throw some logs in the fireplace to make the house extra cozy, but not this year and I want you to join me. Burning wood contributes to air pollution by creating smoke that carries fine particulates in to the eyes and lungs of nearby humans and animals triggering asthma attacks, irregular heart rhythms, and strokes. I don’t know about you, but I can’t be comfort able if I know I’m making someone else uncomfortable.

- By Callie Blacke