Earth Gauge Tip of the Week: Air Quality Awareness Week

Reader Contribution by Earth Gauge
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Air Quality Awareness Week takes place from April 29-May 3, 2013. This year, learn more about how air quality affects your health. And, find out what you can do to protect air quality where you live.

• Air quality is important at every age. Are you at risk for health problems from ozone (sometimes called smog) and particle pollution? Children, people with asthma or another lung disease, healthy adults who are active outdoors, people with cardiovascular disease and people middle-aged and older may be at increased risk. Learn more about the health risks you may face.

• Air pollution isn’t just a big city problem. Poor air quality can be a problem in suburban and rural areas, too. Learn more about how ozone and particle pollution form.

• The Air Quality Index (AQI) helps you plan outdoor activities. Visit or listen to the local weather forecast to check the AQI in your area and plan accordingly. If the ozone air quality forecast is code orange tomorrow and you plan to exercise outside, reduce the health risks by running in the early morning, when ozone levels are likely to be lower. Learn more about checking the AQI and planning outdoor activity.

• Schools can help protect kids from poor air quality. The School Flag Program alerts parents, teachers and coaches to the AQI forecast, allowing them to adjust outdoor activities or move them inside on days when the air might not be healthy. Children and teenagers are at increased risk from air pollution: their lungs are still developing and they are more likely to have asthma. They are also more likely to be active outdoors, and they breathe in more air per pound of body weight than adults do.

• You can help protect air quality where you live. Saving energy at home, tuning up your car, taking public transit and filling your gas tank in the evening are easy ways get started. Learn more about reducing your contribution to air pollution.

Learn more about how weather impacts air quality.

Air Quality Awareness Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.