Welcome to the end of summer. For many Canadians, this is a very sad time of year. While the calendar doesn’t officially indicate summer’s end (we still have until the 21st), the fact that it’s the first day of school for most students across Canada today, signifies that summer vacation is indeed over. Hopefully, we still have several warm and sunny days ahead of us. But, we all know what’s coming. It’s bound to get colder sooner than later!
Canadians are pretty much experts when it comes to preparing for cold weather. Most of us probably have our winter jackets, scarves, mittens and toques all ready to go. But the impending colder weather has implications other than the need to bundle up. How does it affect the air we breathe? Naturally, the air is colder. And for those with respiratory issues, that can present some problems.
What respiratory issues can cold weather cause? Alberta’s Fort Air Partnership notes that warmer air has the ability to carry pollutants away. Contrasting warm air’s tendency to rise, colder air stays closer to the Earth’s surface and, therefore, is more likely to keep pollutants closer to our lungs. The Fort Air Partnership website notes that this is a “weather phenomenon called temperature inversions.”
“In other seasons or weather conditions, warm air sits near the ground and the air can rise easily and carry away pollutants,” the site informs us, “In a temperature inversion, cold air is trapped near the ground by a layer of warm air. The warm air acts like a lid, holding these substances down. During a temperature inversion, smoke can’t rise and carbon monoxide can reach unhealthy levels.”
Who is most affected by cold weather conditions? As you may have guessed, those who have respiratory issues such as asthma and other allergies get it the worst when the cold weather hits. As a result, such individuals are advised to take extra precautions when they are outside in the cold. According to Senior Life Newspapers, there are some recommendations made by the American Lung Association that asthmatics should follow.
They include preparing for winter conditions by wearing scarves over their noses and mouths in order to prevent asthma attack symptoms. As well, “when an individual with asthma experiences a mild attack, it is recommended to stay calm, administer prescribed relief medication, take slow deep breaths, and sips of water or warm liquids. Signs of a mild asthma attach include a continuous cough, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, wheezing, or restlessness and irritability.”
How else does the cold make breathing more difficult? You know how you can see your breath when it’s cold outside? You can see the fumes from car exhausts too, can’t you? Fort Air Partnership informs us that the cold doesn’t just make this vapour more visible to the eye – it increases the level of pollution as well. They note that idling vehicles in the winter (a common occurrence as a method of warming cars up before driving) only add carbon monoxide to the air.
Thankfully, we shouldn’t have to worry about severely cold weather conditions for several more weeks. But, it certainly pays to be prepared for when it comes. In our next blog, we will explore ways that you can improve your home’s indoor air quality during the winter. Believe it or not, cold weather conditions don’t just impact the air outside. Will you be prepared to safeguard your home this winter?
For more information about the Air Quality Services offered by DF Technical & Consulting Services, don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.