May 3 – 7 is Air Quality Awareness Week, sponsored by the NOAA National Weather Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Forest Service, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This year’s theme is “Healthy Air – Important For Everyone!” to raise air quality awareness and encourage everyone to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) often.
The very air that is meant to give us life can also harm us if it's full of pollution. According to the EPA, air pollution is “any visible or invisible particle or gas found in the air that is not part of the natural composition of air.” Poor air quality – indoors and out – is one of the most common asthma triggers.
Some sources of air pollution can include:
- Gases, such as ozone
- Smoke from fires
- Emissions from traffic and manufacturing plants
- Airborne dust
People with asthma need to be aware of how air quality can impact their lungs. Air quality tends to be worse in hot and humid weather and during wildfire season in some parts of the United States. Check your local air quality at AirNow often. Get to know the Air Quality Index (AQI) so you know when you need to take precautions to prevent asthma symptoms.
Also, learn about making your indoor air healthier. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has an interactive Healthy Home website that shows you how you can reduce asthma and allergy triggers and irritants in every area of your home.
During Air Quality Awareness Week, the AirNow website has information for each day of the week on sources of poor air quality. The topics include:
- Wildfires and smoke
- Asthma and your health
- Citizen science and sensors
- Environmental justice and air quality
- Air quality around the world
Watching your exposure to poor air quality is an important part of asthma management. Take a few moments each day this week to learn more about air quality and how it plays a part in your asthma care.