Thursday, March 30

For once, outdoor masks make sense: how to protect yourself from the heat on the street or while playing sports

The greatest haze that is remembered on the Peninsula in recent years is leaving images worth remembering, but also a trail of irritated noses, red eyes and respiratory complications throughout Spain. And it is that, despite the fact that the phenomenon is common in some areas of the country, the dust in suspension and its health consequences are leaving many of us disoriented. Is it really as worrying as it is said? Do we have to reduce everything we do outdoors? Can we play sports with the heat out there?

The haze worsens the quality of the air. Indeed, beyond the spectacular nature, the truth is that the haze considerably worsens the quality of the air. In general, these dust intrusions cause a sudden increase in suspended particles (especially those with a diameter greater than 10 microns). However, as the air quality meters triggered show, the situation is exceptional on the peninsula. To give us an idea, as Roberto Granda explained, “in Segovia, Jaén or Granada they breathe worse today than in the capital of India”, one of the most polluted cities in the world.

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And that has health consequences.. This growth of suspended dust worsens air quality and can cause respiratory problems with mere exposure. We are talking about mucosal irritation, nasal obstruction, itchy eyes or dryness of the upper respiratory tract. In areas with a very strong haze, complications can be greater. Above all, in people with previous respiratory problems (such as emphysema, COPD, asthma and allergies), children and the elderly.

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What do we do? How do we protect ourselves? We must be aware that the situation, with the Gloria storm clearing the skies of a good part of the country, is going to have a very rapid evolution. Therefore, in much of the country it will not be necessary to take specific measures. However, where the quality of the air is compromised, we have a series of recommendations from the health authorities that can be very useful: close doors and windows; be located in humid environments (and use phumidifiers/purifiers if necessary); Drink a lot of liquids; and limit our outdoor activities.

When the latter is not necessary, it is recommended to use FFP2 masks (in this case, surgical masks would not be suitable for filtering the smallest particles).

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Can you play sports? As a general rule, it is not recommended to do outdoor activities. Do sports (especially if it is high intensity) even less. The Spanish Society of Sports Medicine recalled that exercise increases the volume of air we breathe in and “this means that the body will have a huge amount of oxygen to supply its muscles, but also that the lungs filter a large amount of atmospheric air and, if it has many polluting elements, it will also inhale very important quantities of these products”.

That is, if the air is of very poor quality, the greater the intensity of physical exercise, the greater the exposure. It is true that in people, the consequences of this exposure will not go much beyond irritation, tearing and coughing. But limiting outdoor sports seems to be the best option. Above all, considering that the situation on the peninsula is transitory. In the event that this is not possible, being on the street for as little time as possible, reducing the intensity and wearing a mask are the most effective recommendations.

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Image | Manu Fernandez/AP

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