Summer Smog

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Canadians generally have to wait many months for summer.  In Canada, summers are wonderful.  Generally in Canada, we have had a long cold winter; sometimes a rainy spring and then we can appreciate the change of the season into summer.  However, with summer comes intense heat and humidity.  Although this is great for beach goers and sunbathers, pollution presents another worry.  Summer smog is the effect of pollution and heat.  When these two mix, they form a type of air pollution that is very similar to fog called summer smog.

Although the heat is great to be felt in the summer, there does exist a substantial risk that air pollution and heat will combine, creating summer smog, wreaking havoc on a personal health.  Air pollution that exists during the day can become trapped with the heat, and by evening can hover as smog.  So, who needs to worry about summer smog?  For those that are predisposed for respiratory problems (such as asthma) or can be prone to lung infections than you should be concerned with your body’s ability to adapt to summer smog.  Even those not prone to respiratory problems can still suffer from breathing problems.

So, if this is going to exist, what can you do to protect yourself?

  • Avoid going outside when summer smog is at its worst

  • Avoid heavy exercising in the late day (after the heat and air pollutants have had time to mix)

  • Avoid driving or using vehicles that produce emissions that can lead to more air pollutants

  • Check the air quality forecast to determine what activities are safe, and which ones need to be avoided

Monitor yourself and pay attention to any symptoms that your body may present.  Symptoms can range from runny eyes to a burning throat.  If the symptoms get worse, than you should go inside, and remain inside until the air quality improves.  If the symptoms do not subside, then you should seek medical attention.

Summer smog may still exist, especially in major city centers, where the smog gets trapped in and around tall buildings.  However, paying attention to your body when it is labouring under summer smog may be the best practice that you can follow.  Try to do your part in eliminating summer smog by reducing the amount of emissions and air pollutants into the environment.