Experts have found that poor air quality triggers asthma attacks that can send children and adults to the hospital. Poorly maintained vehicles are a major source of air pollution. You can help our community breathe easier by paying more attention to your car’s maintenance.
Effects and Protection
The Air Quality Index provides guidelines to protect your health when ozone and particulate matter levels rise. Protecting yourself means reducing exertion. Exertion is any activity that makes you breathe harder than normal.
During high levels of pollution, active children and adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, or heart disease should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.
Rescheduling outdoor exercise to the morning hours could reduce your exposure to unhealthy pollution levels. Walking instead of jogging, or jogging for half your usual time reduces your exertion and also reduces your risk.
If you experience any unusual coughing, chest discomfort, wheezing or breathing difficulty, you should reduce your activity level.
What is Ozone?
Ozone is a colorless, odorless gas and is the primary ingredient of smog. It is a form of oxygen with three oxygen atoms (O3) in every molecule instead of the two in the normal oxygen (O2) we need to live. This extra atom makes the gas highly reactive, enabling it to damage tissues and materials.
Though ozone occurs naturally above the Earth in the stratosphere to provide a protective layer against ultraviolet radiation, at ground level it is increasingly harmful to breathe as concentrations rise.
Ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is formed by gases called nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which, in the presence of heat and sunlight, react to form ozone.
NOx + VOCs (with sunlight) =O3
Ground-level ozone forms readily in the atmosphere in hot, sunny weather. This is why high levels of ozone are more likely to occur in the summer months.
What is Particulate Matter?
Particulate Matter consists of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Particulate Matter 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller is referred to as "fine" particles or "PM2.5". Fine particles can be formed when combustion gases are chemically transformed into particles. Individually, these particles are invisible to the human eye. (For comparison, a human hair has a diameter of 70 microns.) Collectively, however, they can appear as clouds or fog-like haze.
Particulate Matter larger than 2.5 microns in diameter is referred to as “coarse” particles. Coarse particles have many sources, including: wind-blown dust, vehicles traveling on unpaved roads, materials handling, and crushing and grinding operations.
Long-term exposure to Particulate Matter may increase the rate of respiratory and cardiovascular illness and reduce life span.
Take Action on an Air Quality Alert Day
If an Air Quality Alert is forecast, what actions should you take?Read more...
There's a direct link between our air quality and children with asthma. Be a part of helping our community's asthmatic kids breathe easier by joining the KAIRE Network today.