I thought everyone would find “Fun, Sun and Lungs!” informative. This article was sent to Sacramento Life Force by the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (AQMD) to post on our blog. The Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (say that 3 times fast lol) is reaching out to Sacramento area residents, to make an awareness on air quality and health, and what we can all do regarding air quality. The AQMD also works to reduce pollution and improve air quality in the Metro Sacramento region.
Fun, Sun and Lungs!
A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and air quality is good. Unfortunately, some days may have very unhealthy ozone levels causing a Spare The Air day, which can result in unwanted symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and aggravated respiratory illnesses.
What is a Spare The Air day?
The Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District and the air districts of the Sacramento region want all local residents to know when it is a Spare The Air day so they can protect themselves from the unhealthy ground-level ozone that may cause harm. A Spare The Air day is called when ground-level ozone is expected to reach the unhealthy range during hot summer weather. Ground-level ozone is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) react with the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Our region’s biggest contributors of those smog causing ingredients are the cars and trucks driving around.
Health effects on Spare The Air days
Everyone is affected by poor air quality. Those who work outside, or participate in strenuous activities like sports, are more susceptible. Sensitive groups, including elderly, pregnant women, individuals with heart or lung disease and children under the age of 15 should take extra precautions on Spare The Air days to avoid unwanted health problems associated with poor air quality, such as:
- Aggravated respiratory illnesses, including asthma, emphysema and bronchitis
- Aggravated lung disease causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis
- Aggravated heart disease causing arrhythmias and heart attacks
- Wheezing, coughing, and chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat
- Reduced resistance to infection
- Unusual fatigue
- Difficulty breathing or decreased lung function, even in healthy individuals
Staying healthy on Spare The Air days
But don’t worry, there are many things you can do to avoid the unhealthy effects of poor air quality. The following tips can help you and your family from feeling the adverse health effects of air pollution, while decreasing air pollution in our communities.
Any outdoor activity such as sports, gardening or running errands should be done in the morning or early evening when air quality is at its best.
- Avoid pesticides when taking care of your lawn. Try granular or water-based solutions. Just like gas releases chemicals into the environment, so do pesticides. If you use a water-based solution, you omit the chance of a chemical reaction to occur, thus creating a healthier environment for you to garden in. Also try to use water-based paints, coatings and adhesives when maintaining your home.
- Busy week and errands are piling up? Map out where you will be going; this makes your trip as efficient as possible. If possible, use public transit. Cars are a major source of air pollution in the Sacramento region. If you leave your car at home one day a week, you prevent 55 pounds of pollution each year from being emitted into the air.
- Use an electric starter or chimney briquette starter instead of charcoal lighter fluid. Better yet, replace your charcoal grill with a propane gas grill. You can often tell which neighbor is barbecuing for that fun, summer holiday by the billowing smoke or smell of charcoal in the air. Unfortunately, that smoke contains particulate matter, which can be directly linked to associated health problems. To avoid such particles from affecting your heart and lungs, encourage your family to make the switch to a propane gas grill.
- On your way home and low on gas? Instead of waiting until the morning, fill up your gas tank once the sun goes down. That helps decrease the amount of emissions released while refueling, which ultimately reduces ground-level ozone.
- Sign up for the Sacramento region’s Air Alert email system. Air Alert lets you know what the air quality will be each day plus a forecast of the week to come. It’s as simple as going to http://www.sparetheair.com/airalert.cfm and signing up! It will help you plan your day, protect yourself and those you love from negative health impacts associated with air pollution, and help the environment, too.
Over the years, your hard work to reduce the number of Spare The Air days in the region has paid off. So, keep up the great work! To stay up to date on the Spare The Air campaign and fun activities, follow us on Twitter @AQMD or become Scooter’s Facebook friend at SpareTheAir Scooter. For more information, to receive free educational materials or to sign up for Air Alert, please visit http://www.SpareTheAir.com
Well gang now you know.
Until next time…