Smoky Smell in Hampton Roads May Be Harmful to Small Children

Smoke from the North Carolina wildfires has moved into Hampton Roads leading Virginia official to issue a Code Red air quality advisory earlier this week.

According to various news sources, a Code Red warns that individuals with heart or lung disease, older adults and young children should avoid staying outdoors for long periods of time and should not participate in strenuous outdoor activities. Healthy adults should also reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities.

Smog and particulate matter (such as pollen, soot, and dust) are examples of air pollution. Children’s lungs are especially sensitive to the harmful effects of air pollution because they breathe rapidly and inhale a high concentration of pollution relative to their weight.

Use care when taking your young child outdoors, especially for physical activities. When children exercise, they breathe more heavily than normal. Also, they breathe more through their mouths than their noses. This allows pollution to be inhaled more deeply into the lungs where it can cause permanent damage.

To avoid the harmful effects of air pollution:

  • Do not take your child out when the air quality index is 151 or above. This index is often reported in the news. You can also find it at
  • Go outside early in the morning in the summer and on days where smog may develop. On days that air is stagnant and temperatures reach over 90°F (32°C), smog levels usually peak in mid-to-late afternoon.
  • Stay away from areas with heavy traffic.

If your reaction to the air quality is severe and you have trouble breathing call your doctor immediately.

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