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How is all the smoke and ash in the Bay Area impacting your health? We talked with a pulmonologist about the risks and what you can do to protect yourself.

Doctors say it’s the tiny particulate matter in the air that you can’t see that poses the biggest risk.

“There are estimates that on poor air quality days like this, it’s similar to smoking a half a pack to a pack of cigarettes a day,” Dr. Thomas Dailey, a pulmonologist with Kaiser Permanente, said.

Dailey added that the tiny particulate matter is not just a threat to our lungs.

“They actually get into blood vessels and cause inflammation of blood vessels, and that’s what tends to lead to the cardiovascular heart attacks and strokes,” he said.

While the smoky air is harmful to everyone, children with lungs that aren’t fully developed and people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and emphysema are among those most at risk, according to Dailey.

Dailey recommended that everyone stay indoors with the windows closed. He said people shouldn’t exercise at all, even indoors. If people have to go outside, they should wear an N95 mask, which does a better job at filtering out the fine particles that can damage the lungs.

While in a car, people should keep N95 masks on and put the air system on recirculate.

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By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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