31 Days of Learning to Breathe: Air Quality

I grew up in the beautiful pacific northwest and still live here today. It is stunning and I have NEVER given a thought about our air quality. At least not until August and September rolled around. We live in an area that has a pretty mild climate, not many extremes probably due to the fact that much of our weather is influenced by the ocean which is only an hour and a half away (at it's closest point). However, we are VERY prone to forest fires and this year was no exception. 

We were planning a trip to the beautiful Sunriver, Oregon (one of our favorite spots) the first week of September. Just before we left I noticed a few friends who live in the area posted about the heavy smoke and thought "yikes". They even recommended we not go if we could put it off. But we couldn't, so we went. I packed plenty to do inside. There were more days that were smoky, then not, and we did spend a lot of time indoors. Also on the Sunday after we arrived we heard on the news that someone decided it would be fun to throw a firework in a popular hiking area thus basically setting the Columbia River Gorge on fire. The gorge is only a 45 minute drive from our home so we knew we'd be getting smoke from that when we returned home. See this post here about our trip.
(typically you would see mountains and blue sky....nope, that's smoke)

I say all that to say, I was checking the air quality EVERY DAY for about 2 weeks. When the smell of smoke is so thick you can't see tops of trees and there is ash falling on you, you might want to just stay inside. If you're curious Air Now is a great site. 

Each category corresponds to a different level of health concern. The six levels of health concern and what they mean are:
  • "Good" AQI is 0 to 50. Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
  • "Moderate" AQI is 51 to 100. Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.
  • "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" AQI is 101 to 150. Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air.
  • "Unhealthy" AQI is 151 to 200. Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.
  • "Very Unhealthy" AQI is 201 to 300. This would trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects.
  • "Hazardous" AQI greater than 300. This would trigger a health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.
VIA: www.airnow.gov/index

While we were there we had one day where the air quality was 89. The rest of the days were well above 150, with one day reaching 223. Hmmm. Not too healthy. I brought some essential oils that were for respiratory health.

(This was our first day getting into Bend which is about 30 minutes north of sunriver...yikes)

How often do we think of the "air quality" around us? Not the actual physical air we breathe, though that is important, BUT the quality of what we allow in and out of our hearts and minds. What are you breathing in and out? Is it positive, or is it toxic, is it somewhere in between? What do you do about that which is out of your control? Are you equipped with some tools (like my essential oils) to help reduce the effects of the poor air? 

(BEST sign EVER! And on this day, we appreciated the fresh air the stores had to offer)

Often the atmosphere around us changes, maybe because we had to switch jobs (oh boy can the work place be filled with all sorts of air quality dynamics), or family situations, or just your own mind messing with you. The air quality of social media is always up and down as is the news. What do you do to manage all of this? Because if we do nothing, we will succumb to it. 

Take some time to really pay attention this week to the air quality around you. Pay attention to what comes across your news feed on social media. Go back and look at your timeline. What did you learn? 

With Joy Unquenchable,


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