The Search for Perfect Air
Last updated: September 2021
If you live with asthma, you are already well aware that air quality can have a huge impact on your ability to breathe. Air can be polluted with smoke, smog, particles, and ozone. Additionally, the air is different everywhere; it can be humid and hot, or dry and cold. During each season, various pollens float about the air. My partner has asthma, and this summer it felt like we were trying to find the "perfect air" that did not bother his asthma and make me feel unwell.
Wildfires and ozone pollution
In the United States, we have had a summer filled with wildfires. There were wildfires all throughout the Western region of the U.S., some of which still continue to burn. We have dealt with smokey skies and an AQI (Air Quality Index) over 100, it seems like most mornings in Colorado. On top of this, there has been ozone pollution from all of the city traffic. As if this was not enough, the temperature has fluctuated between 85 to 100 degrees all summer long. Needless to say, it has not been easy to breathe this summer.
Vacation: when a loved one has asthma
My partner and I left Colorado to go visit his family for a week in Michigan. We were very happy to leave the heat and smoke, and looking forward to better air quality. Although there were wildfires in Canada that had been blowing into Michigan, the air had appeared to clear up when we arrived. The first night we slept in Michigan, we woke up and finally had the ability to breathe through our noses. Since the wildfires had started, our sinuses had been clogged and stuffed up, and we found ourselves breathing through our mouths more.
However, we happened to be in Michigan during one of the hottest and most humid weeks. Even though the AQI was good, the humidity and heat had a negative effect on my partner's ability to breathe. On top of this, my partner spent a lot of time playing with the family dog. He's not extremely allergic to dogs, but if exposed enough, will start to experience asthma symptoms. Sadly, he woke up several nights in a row in the midst of an asthma flare-up and had to use his inhaler.
Is there such thing as perfect air?
The short answer is no.
The long answer is "it depends". Everyone who has asthma has different triggers and temperature preferences. My partner struggles with hot, humid air and wildfire smoke. However, other people with asthma might really struggle with cold, dry air, and high pollen count days. My partner and I breathe best in the mountains, with an air temperature around 50-75 degrees, on a low pollen count day with no smoke or ozone pollution insight. We sound like the Goldilocks of air quality!
We might get to experience our idea of perfect air quality a few times a month when we go on a day trip to the mountains. However, we will not get perfect air all the time. There are certain places that consistently have better air quality, but it is inevitable that these places will still have days that are not ideal.
What is your idea of perfect air quality? Do you typically experience good air quality where you live?
Has laughter ever triggered your asthma?