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Check the Air Quality Index & Get Outside

The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced that this week is Air Quality Awareness Week. The theme for this year is "Check the AQI & Get Outside." The goal is to promote events that increase air quality awareness and encourage people to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) to find out the best time of the day to be active outdoors.


People with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart disease are more affected by poor air quality. Just in the US, people affected include:

  • Asthma - more than 26 million

  • COPD - more than 16 million, and

  • Heart disease - more than 28 million.

And one person can have all these conditions!


In March, CDC and EPA launched “Air Aware,” a social media campaign to raise awareness of the risks of poor air quality and how AirNow and the AQI can help protect the health of people with asthma, COPD, and heart disease.

Exercise is key in both pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation and helps maintain health. It’s ok to be active! But the people most sensitive to air pollution should take steps to protect themselves. These steps include:

  • exercising outdoors - but away from busy roads - when the AQI says air quality is good;

  • exercising indoors when the AQI says air quality is poor; and

  • keeping indoor air clean by not smoking indoors or using poorly ventilated wood burning stoves or fireplaces and cutting down on vacuuming, burning candles or incense, and frying foods.

Older people, and people with lung or heart disease, are more sensitive to adverse health effects from air pollution. Short-term exposure to unhealthy air quality contributes to respiratory and cardiovascular complaints. Short- and long-term exposure to particle pollution causes cardiovascular health effects and mortality, and is likely to cause respiratory health effects.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that people at higher risk of health problems caused by air pollution use the Air Quality Index (AQI) to learn about their local air quality and actions they can take to reduce exposure.


Learn more about the Air Quality Index at AirNow.gov


Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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