3 Holistic Ways to Protect You from Wildfire Smoke

Wildfires in Canada are becoming more common. Winds carry the smoke into neighbourhoods and inside homes. How can you protect yourself from the toxic pollutants wildfire smoke carries? Here are 3 holistic tricks that may help.


Symptoms of Wildfire Smoke Exposure:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Scratchy throat
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Headaches
  • Bronchitis
  • Exacerbation of existing heart and lung conditions


  1. Avoid Exposure

While the long-term health impacts of wildfire smoke exposure is uncertain, some research suggests there may be an increased risk of certain diseases, including respiratory illnesses and cancer.


When outside, research suggests wearing a properly fitted mask may be helpful. It could reduce intake of fine particles common in wildfire smoke. Use data from air quality reports for guidance about when it is best to enjoy outdoor activities, or opt for indoor plans.


While inside, close windows to reduce smoke exposure – as long as the weather is not too hot. Turn on your air filtration systems, and place it in the room where people are going to be. Ensure the filter is clean. Guidelines suggest you look for high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) filters that are an appropriate size for the room. Plus, don’t forget to stock up on nature’s best air purifiers: plants!


Once the air quality in your neighbourhood improves and the smoke clears, do let fresh air back into your home. Indoor air can become polluted, even with the windows closed. Clean your air filters and wipe down home surfaces to remove any settled particles.


  1. Houseplants Improve Air Quality

Plants are fantastic air filters. There’s no better place to test whether something filters toxins from the air, than in the tight environment of a spacecraft. NASA scientists were the first to propose plants as indoor air filters. Despite this idea being rooted in space, it’s a growing trend. Green walls are common in corporate spaces, and could soon be a popular feature in home design with understanding of the possible health impacts poor air quality.


Your indoor air can contain many pollutants, including wildfire smoke, nitrogen dioxide from gas appliances, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from synthetic materials and cigarette smoke. Many studies show potted plants inside a room can remove pollutants found in tobacco smoke. Called botanical biofilters by some researchers, maybe it’s time to include more potted in your decorating plans.


But, before you go – know that it’s not the plant itself doing the dirty work. Bacteria in the soil of potted plants work with the plant to help sequester pollutants, removing them from the air. To optimize your houseplants’ air filtering powers, ensure maximum air filters near its leaves – simply turn your indoor fans to direct airflow towards the plant.


  1. Eat, Sleep & De-Stress

Incredibly adaptive, the human body has some natural ability to deal with pollutants. Start with a focus on your general wellness, such as sleep, good food and movement.


Wellness Practices Worth Doing During Wildfire Season:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat nutrient-rich foods
  • Hydrate
  • Move your body
  • Breathe deeply/meditate


Best Foods to Eat During Wildfire Season

Exposure to toxic pollutants is hard on your body. There are no studies suggesting any specific food helps during wildfire season. However, there are nutrients, particularly antioxidants, that your cells need to optimize their ability to deal with pollutants.  Research has found supplementation with omega-3s, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate, sulphorphane (broccoli, Brussel sprouts), vitamin E and D3 could help the body when exposed to pollutants. Ellagic acid, found in blackberries, strawberries and pecans, may also be helpful.


10 Foods to Eat When Exposed to Wildfire Smoke, Suggested by Science