While most of us worry about how we can stay healthy on a day by day basis… air pollution is an important topic – especially with the current wildfires raging surrounding  the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas.  Whether you’re in Encino and Sherman Oaks closer to the Skirball fire, or further into the valley at  Sylmar, Granada Hills, and Lake View Terrace by the Creek fire – air quality is an important thing to consider this week. Here are some useful tips and information on  how to prevent further pollution and how to save yourself from inhaling the harmful smoke.

How To Protect Yourself From Inhaling Smoke

Hopefully you never find yourself in a dangerous situation near a fire, but since these days the Skirball fire and Creek fire are sending smoke in the surround areas, there are few things you can do to protect your lungs from it.

  • Stay indoors and keep the windows closed.  It should go without saying but keeping the house closed up will help keep particulates out from the fire.  place towels near cracks from windows & doors to help seal further.
  • It is pretty obvious as well, but when driving through smoky areas, keep car windows and vents closed. Set your vehicle air conditioner to recirculate to keep unhealthy contaminated air outside.
  • Many people have been directed to put the air conditioner on so that the filter will help clean the air – but if you don’t have HVAC, then a great idea might be to invest in an air purifier for your home.  Many local stores, from Target to Bed, Bath, and Beyond have them and they can help keep the air cleaner inside as well.
  • Invest in a particulate respirator face mask. Contrary to popular belief, common dust masks will not protect you from wildfire smoke, nor will bandanas (wet or dry) surgical masks or tissues. This is because the particles found in wildfire smoke are much too small for a common mask to filter out. You can find particulate respirator masks at many hardware stores and pharmacies. Look for a mask with the word “NIOSH” and either “N95” or “P100” printed on it. Choose a mask that seals against your face with two straps that go around your head, in a size that fits over the nose and chin. These masks can be difficult for those with lung disease to use, so consult with your primary care physician before purchasing.

Ways to Slow Down General Air Pollution and Protect Yourself

  • Use Shared Rides and Public Transportation: Encourage people to use more and more public modes of transportation to reduce pollution. Also, try to make use of carpooling. If you and your colleagues come from the same locality and have same timings you can explore this option to save energy and money.

Fact: Believe it or not, pollution can be four to five times higher inside your car than outside, so being in your car isn’t actually stopping the harmful pollutants reaching you, this is why driving your car instead of using public transportation won’t do much to save you from the polluted air.

  • Conserve Energy: Switch off fans and lights when you are going out. A large number of fossil fuels are burnt to produce electricity. You can save the environment from degradation by reducing the number of fossil fuels to be burned.
  • Understand the Concept of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: Do not throw away items that are of no use to you. In-fact reuse them for some other purpose. For e.g. you can use old jars to store cereals or pulses.
  • Emphasis on clean energy resources: Clean energy technologies like solar, wind and geothermal are on high these days. Governments of various countries have been providing grants to consumers who are interested in installing solar panels for their home.
  • Pay Attention to Wind Patterns. They change throughout the day, blowing pollutants toward or away from your home. Close your home’s windows when the wind is blowing from the highway or another source of air pollution.
  • Plan Your Activities. During the summer, ozone pollution — created when pollutants from cars, buses, and factories react to sunlight — peaks in the early afternoon. Try to avoid vigorous exercise outside during early afternoon on summer days and do it at another period of the
  • Antioxidants. Pollution means our exposure to toxins and free radicals are high and these can be aging to the skin, thanks to the oxidative stress this causes to the body. You can help this process by introducing more antioxidants into your diet. Antioxidants react with free radicals and toxins to help stop the chain of damage in the body. Organic crops are 60 percent higher in antioxidants, so going organic will help. But you can also look to eat more purple, red, yellow and orange fruit and veg, which tend to be high in antioxidants and drinking green tea is also a good idea.
  • Go smoke-free. You already know smoking is bad for your health, and it’s just as bad for air quality — and you don’t need another source of pollution additionally, for sure. Dangerous particles from cigarette smoke can remain in the air long after a cigarette has been extinguished, so put those cigarettes out.

Plants are Our Friends

Just a bonus tips for those who want to do something extra to purify the quality of the air in their homes. Here I listed several air-cleaning houseplants that are very easy to maintain and will do wonders of the air you are surrounded with:

  • GARDEN MUM

In the NASA research, this plant was an air-purifying champion, removing ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene from indoor air. They are pretty popular and inexpensive at garden stores, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding them.

  • SPIDER PLANT

Spider plants are among the easiest houseplants to grow, making them a great choice for beginners or forgetful owners. A fan of bright, indirect sunlight, spider plants will send out shoots with flowers that eventually grow into baby spider plants or spiderettes.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde and xylene

  • DRACAENA

There are more than 40 different kinds of Dracaena plants, making it easy to find one that’s a perfect fit for your home or office. They’re common foliage plants with long, wide leaves that are often variegated with lines of white, cream, or red. Pet owners might want to select a different plant, however, as these are toxic to cats and dogs.

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene

  • FICUS/WEEPING FIG

Though the ficus is a tree in its native home of Southeast Asia, when it grows indoors, it’s a hardy plant that ends up being between two and 10 feet tall. So why not get figgy with it? Grow this low-maintenance houseplant in bright, indirect light and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Although this plant has some serious air-cleaning abilities, it can also be taken outside in late spring and brought back indoors when temperatures are warm and well above freezing.

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene

  • PEACE LILY

Peace lily plants are relatively small compared to many of the plants on this list, but they still pack some major air-cleaning abilities. Easy to grow, these plants will flower for much of the summer. Just be aware that those flowers (like all flowers) do contribute some pollen and floral scents to the air, so you may want to avoid having a room full of them. Put peace lilies in a shady spot and keep the soil moist without overwatering.

Pollutants removed: ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene

  • BOSTON FERN

These plants prefer to clean the air from a cool location with high humidity and indirect light. They’re relatively easy to grow, but they do need to stay moist. Check the Boston Fern’s soil daily to see if it needs water, and give it a good soak once per month.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde and xylene

  • SNAKE PLANT/MOTHER-IN-LAW’S TONGUE

This is one of the hardest houseplants to kill. Although it does need to be watered occasionally, it generally prefers drier conditions and some sun.

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene

  • BAMBOO PALM

A superstar of filtering formaldehyde, these palms thrive in full sun or bright light. Part of the reason they can filter so much air is that they can grow to be pretty big—as tall as four to 12 feet high, making them exciting (and pet-friendly) indoor additions.

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene

  • ALOE VERA

In addition to being easy to care for, aloe makes some serious health claims. The plant’s leaves contain a clear liquid full of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and other compounds that have wound-healing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, and there is some evidence that aloe may help (and is unlikely to hurt) skin conditions like psoriasis.

Pollutant removed: formaldehyde

Wildfire smoke can present breathing problems for the healthiest of people, but it is especially troublesome for those who suffer from lung diseases. If you find yourself in a situation where you are nearby wildfire smoke, know how to protect yourself.


If you’d like more information on the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles, or to have help looking for your next home, please feel free to reach out! I’m happy to help, no obligation.

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