Air Quality Facts You Need to Know
You may open the windows in your home to get some fresh air circulating. But what you might not know is that could be causing more harm than good. There are certain times of the day and specific seasons in which the air quality is better or worse than others, and it's important to know these differences. Follow this quick guide to learn more about the outside air quality.
"The AQI is based on a scale of 0-500."
Air quality is measured according to the Air Quality Index.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is based on a scale of 0-500 and takes into account ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. It uses these factors to determine the health effects a person will feel after a few hours or days of exposure to outdoor pollutants. The higher the number, the worse the air quality. A grade of 0-100 is good to moderate, and anything greater can be cause for concern. The index is also color-coded for information at a glance.
There are two major sources of pollution.
AirNow listed two major sources of outdoor air pollution: ground-level ozone and airborne particles. They pose the greatest risk to humans out of all the outdoor pollutants. Airborne particles from smoke deeply contribute to outside pollution. On the other hand, ground-level ozone is the result of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) reacting with sunlight. The most common examples of these chemical reactions are car exhaust, gas vapors and chemical solvents, noted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Children, senior citizens and people with asthma can experience discomfort when exposed to this kind of pollution.
Healthy people aren't invincible to the effects of pollution.
Even healthy adults who seem to fare well in all kinds of outdoor conditions can be at risk of experiencing discomfort during periods of poor air quality. When the air quality is higher than 100, you may want to change your day's plans if they include extreme outdoor activity. In addition to age, medical history also plays a role in whether an individual is more or less sensitive to the effects of air pollution. The American Lung Association noted that people with diabetes, cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure, as well as anyone who has experienced a heart attack or stroke, are at greater risk of issues from poor air quality.