In Depth: Wildfires and air quality

Segment One

Hal speaks with Dr. Philip Fine, the Deputy Executive Officer for Planning and Rules for the South Coast AQMD and Dr. Micahel Hirt with the Center for Integration and Health. Hal shares a recent story he did on the fire-caused bad air quality and the health risks.

Dr. Hirt says that people with underlying lung conditions are most at risk, for example people with allergies, asthma and COPD, but if the air stays as bad as it is after the fires, people who don't even have those conditions can feel their lungs become inflamed. He says that there are a lot of toxic chemicals that get into the air that can get into your bloodstream through the lungs.

Dr. Fine says that large-scale emission reduction programs and electric cars have made a huge difference in our air, so that the terrible air we see from the fires, could have just been our normal air 50 or 60 years ago.

Segment Two

We're back with Dr. Fine and Dr. Hirt, talking about the AQMD app which allows anyone to look at the air quality situation wherever they may be. There are several other apps that help people figure out their exposure to potentially dangerous air.

Dr. Hirt discusses the potential toxins from fires, and how much worse structure fires are than  brush fires, as there are so many chemicals in our structures. He says there are a lot of things to do to make the air quality inside our homes healthier, from changing filters to using less toxic cleaning products to help protect our lungs. He also says that with the dangerous air, people might need to change their medication or practice breathing exercises to help them manage during days with poor air quality.

Segment Three

Joining Hal is Gloria Dolphin Hammes, the CEO of IQAir. The company assists homes and businesses with air purification. She says people should be monitoring the air daily, and that will help us decide whether they should be exercising outside, or whether it would be better to move those workouts indoors.

Hammes suggests upgrading home air conditioner air filters to better filter particulates  that can be very tiny. She also says there is an air quality app that IQAir offers to let people know how polluted their air might be.

Segment Four
We end with a song from Bruce Springsteen's new album that he recorded at home- in only five days during the pandemic.