Not sure if you’ve been following news about the heat wave along the east coast this week, but New York City and Boston reached 100 degrees before we did in San Antonio. How odd is that? People up there are now dealing with something we see all the time here in south Texas – Air Quality Health Alerts.
AACOG – the Alamo Area Council of Governments – has the definition of why Air Quality Health Alerts are issued: “Ozone pollution occurs mostly during hot summer days with little or no wind. Forecasters can predict when the ozone level is expected to exceed standards for healthy air. If unhealthy ozone levels are predicted, an “Air Quality Health Alert” is announced to the media and public for the following day – so that people can take steps to protect their health and help to reduce the pollution emissions that eventually become ozone.”
Turns out our ozone season here in San Antonio runs from April 1st to October 31st and peaks in August and September. No doubt you’ll be seeing notices about Air Quality Health Alert days here really soon. We asked meteorologist Jennifer Broome about the impact of these days on your family’s health.
“High levels of ground-level ozone are especially harmful to children, people who are active or work outdoors and to those with any sort of respiratory problem, such as asthma,” says Broome. “The most critical thing to do on Air Quality Health Alert days is to reduce emissions. You can simply help do that by driving less. Carpooling, busing, walking and biking are great alternative modes of transportation on those days. Other tips include driving less aggressively and slower, removing excess weight from the trunk, combining errands into a single trip, avoiding rush and idling, and gassing up after 6pm.”
You’ve heard us preach about indoor air quality before. It’s so crucial to your health. Problem is – there are no Air Quality Health Alerts for inside your home. That responsibility falls on you, unfortunately. The EPA ranks indoor air quality as one of the top five concerns to your health. Poor indoor air quality can affect everything from coughs and colds to allergies and asthma.
This doesn’t have to be an expensive fix, either. In previous blogs, we’ve mentioned easy things you can do right now to improve the air in your home – things like regularly changing your air filters and improving ventilation by opening your windows at the right times. There are products that will fix any problems though, if you are interested.
So next time you see a warning about an Air Quality Health Alert, do what you’re supposed to do those days. But don’t forget about the rest of the air your family is breathing.