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Smoky Skies: Stanford Doctor's Advice -- Keep Your Children Indoors

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Some parents have been wondering if it's better to take your children outside to get some exercise, instead of staying inside for days even if the air is considered unhealthy.

One Stanford University pediatrician says she's not taking her young children outside, not even for one-minute in these conditions.

"This isn't going to be the last time that we are going to be suffering from this exposure so I'm thinking about not just today or next week, but I'm thinking about my child and all children's long-term health," said Dr. Lisa Patel of Stanford Children's Health.

Doctors say when the smaller particulate matter is inhaled, especially by children, that can damage the lining of airways, and vital cells called Alveolar Macrophages deep in the lungs.

"These cells are amoeba-like cells that engulf any foreign particles that make it down into the deep lung and also fight bacteria and are first responders to viruses," said UCSF pulmonologist Dr. John Balmes.

"When they're full of toxic particles from smoke, whether tobacco, vaping, marijuana, or wildfire smoke, they don't function as well," said Balmes.

Children also tend to spend more time outside than adults.

"You have to think about the dose being higher because they're breathing in faster, the exchanges are faster, so they're inhaling more of it," said Patel.

Whether to take your kids outside in the coming days, depends on how much the AQI improves.

"Go outside for brief periods of time for purposes of mental health and purposes of getting your kids outside, if it's in the yellow zone, Patel said. "But when we're getting to those higher levels of pollution the best thing to do is to stay inside and limit your exposure as best you can."

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