Watch CBS News

Protecting yourself from poor air quality due to smoke from Canadian wildfires

Detroit air quality among worst in the world
Detroit air quality among worst in the world 02:21
Andres Gutierrez/CBS Detroit

NOVI, Mich., (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit's air quality ranked among the worst in the world Wednesday as Canadian wildfires blow smoke into the metro.

The hazy conditions are expected to linger in our area for at least another day. But there are some simple steps you can take to mitigate the risk while you're out in it.

Gary Shields wore a leftover mask from the pandemic to prevent smoke particles from entering his lungs.

"My eyes have been watering. My throat has been sore. I have been coughing. And I've been indoors mostly for the last three days," Shields said.

A few others did the same on the campus of Wayne State University Wednesday.

With an air quality alert in effect, several events were forced to postpone, including the fifth annual "Metro 707 Youth Showcase," which provides opportunities for high school football players to show off their skills.

"We are putting safety over athletics because, in every event that we do as an organization, Sound Mind Sound Body always aims to prioritize the health and well-being of young people," said Curtis Blackwell, coach and co-founder of Sound Mind Sound Body. 

Detroit's air quality rating is between "unhealthy" and "very unhealthy." So, in your car, the recirculate button is your friend. 

"That's going to stop bringing nearly as much fresh air into the car. That's going to run through the heating ducts through the blower motor. Anything that runs through a micron air filter. This kind of weather obviously, unfortunately, going to reduce the life expectancy of that, but you would rather have it stuck in your filter than you would have it, you know, pulled into your lungs," Ryan Seidler, service manager at Jeffrey Honda in Roseville, told CBS News Detroit.

With 483 active fires burning in Canada, the smoky conditions will persist. 

Its long-term effects on the body are unknown.

"But in the short term, you know, it's like smoking a cigarette. If you smoke half a cigarette, it's like having an air quality index of 350. So, if you're not a smoker, and you go out on a day like today, it'd be like how smokers feel. It causes bronchospasm, it causes the airways to squeeze down and decrease airflow makes you short of breath," Dr. Lawrence MacDonald, Chief of Pulmonology at DMC Huron Valley Sinai Hospital, said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.