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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Slice me off a hunk of air, will ya?

(Shutterstock image)

Blech. The air quality here is terrible. We have beautiful mountains that surround us but that can cause problems. Since we are surrounded by mountains, we have a beautiful valley or "bowl" that most of us live in. In winter, when the weather is really cold (it was 4 degrees Fahrenheit when I drove to work) we get bad air. Why? Well, years ago you probably learned in science class that hot air rises. If it's really cold outside, the cold air gets trapped under the hot air because the cold air is denser. Then the pollution is trapped in the cold air and we get to breathe it in.

I get email alerts every day from our state Environmental Quality office. Today it said:

Air Quality Condition: Unhealthy for sensitive people, Wood Burn Forecast: NO BURN
Health Advisory: Sensitive people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.

What this means is that if you have asthma or heart disease, you need to be very careful if you go outside. That means not staying outside for a long time (jogging, walking, kids playing at recess, etc.)

NO BURN means it's against the law here to use a wood burning stove or fireplace -unless it's your only source of heat. The division of Environmental Quality can issue a heavy fine.

Our state health department's Asthma Program conducted a study that showed that people with asthma tend to have more asthma attacks, use more asthma medicine, and end up in the emergency room more often during an inversion that lasts longer than 5 days.

So keep us in mind if you want to make a crackling fire in your fireplace tonight. Remember that what comes out of your chimney goes into my lungs and makes it hard to breathe. I have spent A LOT of money at my local hospital for asthma, and would like to keep my money to myself this year. So please don't use your fireplace when the air quality is bad. I thank you, and my lungs thank you.

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