The Air Quality Index (pictured above), or AQI, is the system used to warn the public when air pollution is dangerous. The AQI tracks ozone (smog) and particle pollution (particles from ash, vehicle exhaust, soil dust, pollen, other pollution), and more.
Ozone is a colorless gas that can be good or bad, depending on the quantity and where it is. For example, the Ozone layer in the stratosphere is good because it absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The depletion of this Ozone will allow more UV rays to reach the earth, thus causing more skin cancers, sunburns, and premature aging of the skin.
High concentrations of ozone at ground level is bad because it can harm human health as we breathe it in.
Franklin county, PA and Washington county, MD have a color code of orange. This means the air is unhealthy to sensitive groups of people such as older adults, children, teenagers, people who are active outdoors, and those with respiratory diseases such as asthma.
Frederick county, MD has a color code of purple. This means the air is very unhealthy. Children, active adults, and people with respiratory diseases should avoid outdoor exertion. Others should limit their outdoor exertion.
If the quality of air affects you:
- Reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion, and take more breaks.
- Watch for symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath.
- Schedule outdoor activities in the morning when ozone is lower.
How to Reduce the Harmful Ozone & Other Contaminants at Ground Level?
- Turn off lights you are not using.
- Drive less: carpool, use public transportation, bike or walk.
- Keep your engine tuned, and don’t let your engine idle.
- When refueling: stop when the pump shuts off, avoid spilling fuel, and tighten your gas cap.
- Inflate tires to the recommended pressure.
- Use low-VOC paints, cleaning products, and seal and store them so they can’t evaporate.