The first week of May is Air Quality Awareness Week. The EPA measures air quality to tell us how clean or polluted the air is. This has special significance for people with asthma. Air pollution is a trigger for some people with asthma.
The EPA calculates the Air Quality Index (AQI) based on five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act:
- ground-level ozone
- particle pollution (also known as particulate matter)
- carbon monoxide
- sulfur dioxide
- nitrogen dioxide
For people who have asthma, your symptoms can worsen even when ozone levels are moderate (AQI 51-100). When the AQI is 101 or higher, it is dangerous for those with asthma. You may have to change your activities and medicines.
Through its AirNow program, the EPA signals air quality through a color code. You can encourage your school or workplace to join the Air Quality Flag Program. Raise a physical flag that matches the EPA color code. The color of the flag matches the AQI color code: green (0-50), yellow (51-100), orange (101-150), red (151-200) and purple (201-300).
You can protect your lungs by watching the air quality. The EPA also offers ways to get alerts based on your zip code: