Air Quality: Solution 1 – Monitor Air Quality
Image: US EPA, “Air Quality Index”
Big Idea: Checking the Air Quality Index is a helpful way to protect yourself against widespread air pollution associated with wildfires and heavy traffic.
- First you can check the Air Quality Index, or AQI, each day on www.airnow.gov. The Environmental Protection Agency calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act, using a point system from 0 to 500.
- As you see in this image, recommendations are made for the general public and sensitive populations, which include people with asthma, based on AQI levels. On poor air quality days, people with asthma can take precautions to protect themselves, such as staying indoors during the afternoon and wearing masks when outdoors.
- Keep in mind that the AQI is important for everyone, not just people with asthma. A study of 6,400 children exposed to wildfires in southern California found that children without asthma were more likely to inhale PM than children with asthma. Researchers asserted that children with asthma knew to take precautions (such as staying indoors), which reduced their exposure.
Kunzli et al, 2006. Health Effects of the 2003 Southern California Wildfires on Children, 2006.
US EPA, “AirNow”