For the last two weeks, I have been living on Tatooine. Not really, but it certainly has felt like that – with smoky, red sunrises and sunsets, inhospitable heat and high levels of ground-level ozone. British Columbia, where I live, remains under a state of emergency as 148 wildfires continue to burn across the province, with this being BC’s worst fire season in almost sixty years. As a result, the air quality in many communities, including mine, has deteriorated to dangerous levels.
This is what the sunrise has looked like from my backyard the last two weeks:
There have been high concentrations of fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 in the air, which are solid or liquid droplets with a diameter of ≤2.5µm (micrometres). Due to their small size, these particles easily penetrate indoors, even when windows are closed and are small enough to pass from the lungs into the bloodstream – putting people with lung or heart disease, Diabetes or asthma at risk.
In addition to the smoky air, temperatures each day have been in the low- to mid-thirties Celcius (90-95 degrees Fahrenheit) which is highly unusual. Here in the Greater Vancouver area, we’ll get a few days in a row like that once or twice each summer, but not for two weeks solid! Thankfully I have air conditioning, but it has been brutal to be outdoors.
Concentrations of ground-level ozone have reached and stayed at advisory levels. This is formed when pollutants given off by the forest fires and compounds from the solvents used to put out the fires react in the air, in the presence of sunlight.
Even wearing an N95 mask outside which is designed to filter out the small smoke particles, I have found my breathing very laboured.
Needless to say, my morning and after-dinner walks have been impossible. I tried exercising indoors, but my lungs were simply too irritated from the small smoke particles.
I have continued with intermittent fasting but for shorter periods of time (as my body is under physiological stress) and I continue to eat a low carb high fat diet. My weight has dropped another pound over these last two weeks, despite no exercise at all. My blood sugar on the other hand is considerably higher without the walks.
An air quality analyst with Metro Vancouver has reported that the weather is expected to shift this coming weekend, allowing some of the smoke to begin to dissipate. Until then, part of taking care of my health is not to exercise.
Reporting from Tatooine, British Columbia, I’m Joy Kiddie, practicing what I preach.