6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, How to Monitor Dangerous Air Quality

[anvplayer video=”5185145″ station=”998128″]

(ABC 6 News) – Smoke from the Canadian wildfires has sparked air quality advisories across much of the United States since May.

Now, millions of Americans are bracing themselves as another wave of smoke makes its way across the border.

But unsafe air is not always obvious – invisible and odorless pollutants from traffic or weather patterns can also linger.

Consumer Reports is here to tell you how to monitor the air quality around you, so you can stay safe.

That thick orange haze from the Canadian wildfires had many Americans on the east coast running inside for cover.

Along with being uncomfortable, polluted air can also be harmful!

“Microscopic particles in smoke are linked to asthma, coughing, difficulty breathing, even non-fatal heart attacks,” says Consumer Reports’ Kaveh Waddell.

Consumer Reports says there are numerous steps you can take to stay safe.

Sign up for air quality alerts from your public health department. You can also get your area’s current air quality ratings and future air quality forecast on the Environmental Protection Agency’s AIRNow website and app. Other apps – IQAir, PlumeLabs, and PurpleAir – also monitor Air Quality Index values.

But the best thing to do when pollution levels are high, is to stay inside and keep outdoor air OUT of your home!

Seal doors and windows with weather stripping and even duct tape. Stay away from laundry and bathrooms that may have ducts open to the outside.

Waddell suggests, “look for an air purifier with a HEPA filter to get smoke out of your home. A carbon filter will help to get the smell of smoke out too.”

And if you do have to go outside when the air quality is bad, Consumer Reports says wear an N95 mask, the same masks that provide the best protection from COVID-19.