The air quality index (AQI), a measure of the concentration of pollutants in the air, is a reliable predictor of what’s happening to your health. A high AQI day can be particularly dangerous for people at higher risk for respiratory problems — older adults, children, and those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart disease. Here are five ways you can protect yourself from poor air quality.
Monitor Daily Air Pollution Forecasts in Your Area
Monitoring the daily air pollution forecasts is a good way to keep tabs on the air quality in your area. These forecasts provide information about how high the AQI is expected to be on any given day, what exactly you should avoid breathing in (e.g., ozone or particulate matter), and the best options for protecting yourself against high AQIs.
If there’s an air quality index alert in your area, ensure you pay attention to it so you can limit your exposure to harmful pollutants.
Don’t Exercise on High AQI Days
If you plan to exercise on a high AQI day, understand that exercise can increase your heart rate and respiration. That means you may be breathing in more polluted air than normal.
Exercising can also increase your body temperature, which makes it more difficult for your body to cool down. In addition, if there are high levels of air pollution outside and inside your home (such as from cooking or heating), it will be harder for you to breathe comfortably during exercise.
Keep Your Car in Good Working Condition
When driving, ensure your car is in good working order. Regular maintenance is essential to keeping your vehicle safe and reliable, so be sure to keep up with it. This includes:
- Checking the oil and coolant levels
- Checking tires for proper inflation (and replacing them if necessary)
- Changing or cleaning filters as needed (air filter, fuel filter)
If possible, park in a garage or covered parking spot during high AQI days so that pollutants don’t get trapped inside your car, where they can build up over time.
Keep Your Home and Car Windows Closed
If you can keep your windows closed, do so. It will help keep the air inside your home or car fresh and clean. If you want to leave for a few minutes, ensure all doors and windows are locked before leaving the house or car.
If you have an air conditioner, turn it on as high as possible while keeping in mind how much electricity costs per hour. Also, consider using a HEPA filter with an exhaust fan if available. This will help filter harmful particles from entering your living space through vents or open windows/doors.
Avoid Smoggy Areas When Possible
You can do your part by avoiding smoggy areas during high AQI days. This will help you avoid exposure to pollutants and prevent the development of smog-related health issues.
If you must venture outdoors, limit your time there and stay indoors if possible. You might also consider wearing a mask when going out during these times. However, this is not recommended for everyone, as it may be uncomfortable or inconvenient depending on where you live and work.
Now that you know how to protect yourself from air pollution, you can use these tips to help keep your family safe. You can also share this information with friends and neighbors who may not know about these dangers. Remember that everyone deserves clean air, so spread the word.
With an educational background Alana loves the science behind child development. Her passion is the way in which children learn and grow. After an accident that ended her career as a teacher she has dedicated herself to studying child development. She has been learning styles to help influence teachers with the needs of different children. She hopes to one day have a big impact in this space and we are so lucky to have her as part of our writing team. Alana is mum to 3 young adults and loves being a big part in their life.