As we brace for the July Full Moon happening in a few days' time — which is expected to make us feel tired, wired, and irritable — we have another, even more frightening, moon to contend with: the orange moon. While the name may be reminiscent of the eery full moons you often hear about in astrology (like the "Pink Super Moon" in Scorpio we experienced not too long ago), this one won't just challenge our emotional well-being.
That's because the orange moon or sun you've likely seen in your Instagram feed by now (or witnessed yourself, along with super hazy skies) were actually caused by the wildfires raging in Oregon and California. And it's not just affecting people who live there. Smoke from the fires in the western U.S. and southern Canada (which have charred more than a million acres and created smoky conditions visible from space) has been carried thousands of miles by high winds all the way to the East Coast, prompting air-quality alerts in cities like New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington D.C. Take a second on that: Wildfires on the West Coast are causing dangerous air conditions all the way across the country on the EAST Coast.
This has led to hazy skies and orange sunrises and moonrises — and it also means the full moon coming on Friday could have an ominous orange glow. (This happened last fall too, FYI.)
And experts say these air-quality alerts shouldn't be taken lightly. "The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles. These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into your lungs. They can cause a range of health problems, from burning eyes and a runny nose to aggravated chronic heart and lung diseases. Exposure to particle pollution is even linked to premature death," the EPA warns. "While not everyone has the same sensitivity to wildfire smoke, it's still a good idea to avoid breathing smoke if you can help it," the agency adds.
While it may seem unbelievable that something happening 2,500 miles away can affect your health, it could very well be the reason you're experiencing cold or allergy-like symptoms, says Arizona-based family physician Natasha Bhuyan, M.D., regional medical director for One Medical. "Particulate matter from wildfires can travel quite a distance and irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract of people thousands of miles away," Dr. Bhuyan tells InStyle. "Many of these symptoms are similar to allergy symptoms, such as eye irritation, scratchy throat, coughing, sneezing, and nasal congestion." And that's on top of the spike in summer colds we're already dealing with. Fun!
Luckily (I guess??) for the East Coast, severe storms are expected to usher the smoke out of the area. In the meantime? "The effects of air pollution can be minimized by avoiding strenuous activity or exercise outdoors," states the National Weather Service alert. Consider that your invitation to fire up a Peloton workout instead or focus on some breathing exercises to quell your eco-anxiety.