SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – We are paying close attention to air quality right now due to the Canadian wildfires. However, there are several pollutants that affect air quality in western Massachusetts year-round.

22News spoke to the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts for insight into air pollutants we breathe in on a daily basis. The Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts uses a small device to monitor air quality in Massachusetts. While readings are especially high now due to the wildfire, air pollutants are a year-round problem here in the valley.

Sarita Hudon of the Public Health Institute says ozone car pollution, factories, and pollen all contribute to poor outdoor air quality. “And then we have the valley. So some of the air pollutions, like what we get now on the wildfires, that is coming in from the west or the northwest. It is landing and it settles here.”

Poor air quality can worsen or even cause breathing problems like asthma which the city of Springfield has historically high rates of.

“If you have poor air quality it can affect the amount of oxygen that is in the air and the amount of oxygen you inhale. With more toxins, it causes more inflammation and more lung diseases,” Dr. Mohammad Abu Hishmeh a Pulmonary Critical Care Physician at Baystate Health told 22News.

People with lung or heart issues are especially at risk. “It’s a little bit problematic for me especially. I had heart transplant surgery a couple of years ago and so because of the smoke it causes me, this is why I am wearing my mask. Hopefully, it will protect me from the smoke and air quality,” said Matt Kline of Enfield.

Using an air filter in your home can mitigate poor air quality and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can make one with an old box fan and a $15 air filter from a hardware store.

If you want to stay informed of the air quality in our area you can check it daily by visiting healthyairnetwork.org.

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Alanna Flood is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Alanna on X @alannafloodnews and view her bio to see more of her work.