Anyone – even healthy people – can experience health impacts from air pollution, including respiratory irritation or breathing difficulties during exercise or outdoor activities. Your actual risk of adverse effects depends on your current health status, the pollutant type and concentration, and the length of your exposure.
High air pollution levels can cause immediate health problems, including:
Long-term exposure to polluted air can have permanent health effects, such as:
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Spare the Air is an awareness campaign and a call to action. The campaign informs people about the dangerous health effects of air pollution and asks residents to drive less to reduce pollution when a Spare the Air Alert is issued.
Typically, a Spare the Air Alert is issued during peak ozone months, May–October, when ground-level ozone (smog) is forecast to meet or exceed 126 on the Air Quality Index (AQI). However, we have seen alerts at other times of the year or for other reasons, when the air quality is poor and the AQI exceeds recommended levels.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It’s used nationwide to help you understand what local air quality means to your health. The higher the AQI value, the greater the amount of air pollution, which means the greater the health concerns. The AQI is a great tool for you to use to determine if you can enjoy the outdoors as usual, or if you should consider planning an indoor activity to reduce exposure to air pollution.
Those most susceptible to health problems from air pollution are:
People in these groups may experience health impacts at lower air pollution levels, or feel health effects more severely at any level.
Get all of these resources at the Spare the Air website.