Air Quality Awareness Week: Stop the Sniffles

inner-img5Sunshine, warm weather and… a runny nose? For many, spring can lead to harsher symptoms than a winter cold thanks to allergies and air quality issues. This week is Air Quality Awareness Week and LeBauer Pulmonology is working to draw awareness to common issues like poor air quality, allergies and asthma. According to the ACAAI, nearly 50 million people suffer from allergies and the number is growing at an alarming rate. This week, learn how air quality can affect your health, and how it could be the reason you can’t stop that runny nose.

Ozone, particulate matter, pollutants..oh my!

In 1990, the Clean Air Act was overhauled, allowing the EPA to more aggressively monitor and enforce air quality regulations. Originally passed in 1970, the Act was implemented in response to high smog and pollutant levels that were leading to a higher risk of allergies or illnesses. The Clean Air Act also allows the EPA to monitor air quality, approve local clean air initiatives and fund research opportunities. The implementation of this Act was the first step toward raising awareness of how harmful air pollution can be.

Ozone levels, particulate matter and pollutants are all major players when it comes to understanding air quality and its harmful effects. According to the National Weather Service, “Motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are among the major sources of NOx (nitrogen oxides) and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) responsible for buildup of ground-level ozone. Even at low concentrations, ozone can trigger a variety of health problems such as lung irritation and inflammation, asthma attacks, wheezing, coughing, and increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses.” Many of the major sources of NOx come from cars or factories we rely on regularly including gas stations and manufacturing plants. Although we don’t see or hear about the effects of air quality on a daily basis, it is important to understand how it can be contributing to your family’s health issues.

How does air quality affect me and my family?

When it comes to illnesses caused by air pollutants allergens are one of the better known symptoms, but many other illnesses can be caused by hazardous pollutants. According to the American Family Physician groups that are at a higher risk of finding symptoms related to air quality include those with asthma, COPD and cardiovascular diseases. Children and older adults are also at higher risk of illness.

Monitoring Your Air Quality

A great way to keep yourself and your family safe is by monitoring your area’s air quality on a daily basis. Limiting outdoor exposure on unhealthy or hazardous days is a simple step you can take to avoid respiratory issues. Tools such as Air Now’s AQI forecast is updated regularly showing levels of air pollution in your area. Pollen.com is another valuable tool, providing a weekly view of the pollen forecast in your area. Utilizing these tools and staying aware of the environment can help protect you from potential health hazards. Another great tool to learn more about air pollution today is by referencing the EPAs awareness week infographic that shares additional information about air quality.

Learn more today

With 75 million people living in areas with unclean air, it can be difficult to stay healthy and informed. The staff at LeBauer Pulmonology are happy to answer any questions you may have about any symptoms you are experiencing that may be due to air quality. Whether it is allergies, asthma or another ailment, LeBauer Pulmonology is ready to get you on the road to a sneeze-free summer!

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