How do you know if it is safe to inhale the air you breathe every day? How polluted is the city that you live in?
Did you know that certain cities in the U.S. have days and weeks of the year when you really shouldn’t be active outside? This is particularly important for seniors, young children, people with asthma, and/or people who have lung and/or heart issues.
For every city in the U.S., you can find out what the air quality is on any given day just as easy as you can find out what the weather is. This is known as the Air Quality Index.
Living in Southern California, I have compiled a list of tools to make it easy to know which days you should stay inside and when it is safer to play.
Some parts of the country have such good air that you really don’t need to monitor it, while other parts of the country have days that are literally not safe to play outside.
Helpful Tools-What is The Air Quality Today For The City You Live In?
The first step in being able to manage any situation, is to find out exactly what you are dealing with.
#1: GET AN OVERVIEW OF AIR QUALITY FOR THE COUNTRY
Go to Airnow.gov to get an overview of the air quality levels for the entire U.S.A. The green color is considered to be “safe air,” with a number associated with it from 1-50.
This means that one part of the country could be “green” with a #49 level, and when another citu is green ranked at #4 level. The city with the number 4 has cleaner air, as the lower the number the better.
#2. ENTER YOUR ZIP CODE TO FIND YOUR CITY’S AIR QUALITY
The next step is to ENTER YOUR ZIP CODE in the right hand corner of the site and you will be taken to the area you live in.
It will rate your county on that day for:
1. Particles pollution- Learn about particulate matter
2. Ozone pollution – Learn about the health affects of ozone pollution
In this example, I just did a search in San Diego California for today. Since the particles are above 50, it is now color coded YELLOW and considered not safe for high risk people who have lung issues. However, the ozone levels are in the green today, rated at 34.
Particles (PM2.5) –53 Yellow
COMPARE TO ANOTHER PART OF THE COUNTRY
Particles (PM2.5)- 3 Green
Ozone –6 Green
You can see there is a huge range even within the safe “GREEN” levels.
#3. SUBSCRIBE TO RECEIVE AIR NOTIFICATIONS EVERY DAY
If you live in an area that sometimes has poor air quality, it is important to know this to plan your life accordingly. The great news is you can subscribe by e-mail to be notified of the air quality each day of the city you live in.
#4. HOW MANY UNHEALTHY DAYS ARE THERE IN THE COUNTY YOU LIVE IN?
There is a wonderful site that you can compare one county to another in terms of air quality and how unhealthy it is for certain health conditions like heart disease, asthma or just generally being active outside.
Go to EPA.gov
A. Select which description you are interested in searching.
- Asthma or other lung disease
- Heart disease
- Older adults and children (with no specific health concern)
- Active Outdoors (with no specific health concern)
- General Population (no specific health concern)
B. Select which county you want to look at.
C. If you are thinking of moving to a new place, you can compare one county to another to see how it measures.
Hope this is helpful. Please write in to share your thoughts about what you discovered about the city you live in.
Stay tuned for a full part series on polluted air and how to manage it short of moving.