Last week I wrote in Exercise Safety and Air Quality that experts suggest exercising indoors when the air quality is bad. Yesterday National Public Radio reported that Sheltering Inside May Not Protect You From The Dangers Of Wildfire Smoke. “A series of studies looking at crowdsourced indoor air quality during wildfire smoke events has found that the most insidious part of wildfire smoke — microscopic particles [PM 2.5] so small they can infiltrate a person’s bloodstream, exacerbating respiratory and cardiac problems — can seep through closed doors and shuttered windows, making air hazardous in homes and businesses.”
“Newer homes, better insulated and equipped with air filters, did better than old ones, highlighting the need for air filtration for people who live in drafty homes.”
Marshall Burke, professor at Stanford University purchased a PurpleAir monitor to read indoor air quality in real time. PurpleAir has three monitors ranging in price from $199 to $249.
With an air filter system air is drawn through a filter, which filters out even the smallest particles. This creates positive air pressure in the house, i.e., pressure greater than the exterior air. As a result the air inside your home is pushed outside through the drafty places. A commercial air filter system is expensive. Here’s an inexpensive alternative: “On a smoke-filled, hot day in Missoula, Mason Dow and a group of volunteers duct tape square air filters, bought at Home Depot, to a stack of box fans. The materials for each cost about $40.” For this to work any gap between the box fan and a window must be sealed.
Here’s another very inconvenient alternative:“N95 masks are the type of face covering protection that I would recommend for somebody who is outside during the air pollution caused by wildfires,” says Marina Vance. She says N95 and KN95 masks are equally effective if worn correctly. You could wear an N95 or KN95 mask indoors, although that’d be very inconvenient. According to her cloth masks are useless. Vance recommends throwing an N95 or KN95 mask away after a few uses. Vance is an assistant professor in the department of mechanical engineering and in the environmental engineering program at the University of Colorado, Boulder. (Healthline from University of Colorado)
I’m not recommending a particular solution – this depends the situation and your risk tolerance. However, just one very smoky day may be unhealthy. A study examined the effects on firefighters’ pulmonary function of one-time severe exposure to smoke six weeks after exposure and then 18 months later and found “firemen may develop lung disease related to their occupational exposure.”
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written nearly 30 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.