Bad air: Massachusetts residents feel the impact of poor air quality from Canadian wildfires

BOSTON — The afternoon run was a little slower, but not from lack of training.

“It’s nasty out. My asthma is bad in general, and this is much worse,” said runner Scott Wegzyn.

Haze settled in around the buildings in Boston. Smoke from the Canadian wildfires has blown into the region causing air quality concerns.

“You might have itchy, runny eyes or a little bit of sore throat from this. It can also cause irritation in the lungs,” said Dr. Caleb Dresser, Climate and Human Health Fellowship, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “Particulate matter in the smoke can get into your lungs and it can actually get into your bloodstream and cause inflammation throughout the body.”

Those considered in sensitive group like people with heart conditions or asthma are at particular risk. They’re advised to stay inside more, take more breaks and do less intense activities.

“Air pollution is a little bit like hypertension. You don’t really feel it when you have it, but you feel its effects. Air pollution isn’t something that we typically know in the moment, but we see its effects, downstream effects,” said Dr. Peter Moschovis, a pulmonologist at Mass General Hospital.

He suggested everyone can take the following steps to lessen their exposure: Stay indoors with windows and doors closed; if you have central air conditioning, run it and change the air filter and, if possible, upgrade to a more efficient filter; take a break from outdoor exercise; and wear a high efficiency mask like an N95 mask.

Ginger Chen is already doing that. She copes with allergies and regularly checks the air quality reports.

Today’s report had Chen putting on a mask.

“I think mask really helps when I feel itchy eyes, itchy nose,” she said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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