Did you know that almost 60 percent of Americans live an area with unhealthy levels of air pollution? Just like a recipe, the atmosphere needs all the right ingredients to make ground-level ozone – a harmful air pollutant that is common during the summer months. When the temperature rises and the sun is shining, heat and sunlight mix with nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds that come from car exhaust, power plants, refineries, gasoline vapors at gas stations and other sources to “cook-up” ground-level ozone. Certain groups of people are especially vulnerable to health effects from air pollution, including young children, older adults and people who have lung diseases like asthma.
Viewer Tip: People who exercise or work outside are also at increased risk for health impacts from air pollution. Stay healthy and reduce your exposure by watching air quality reports from your local media or checking www.airnow.gov. When conditions reach “Code Orange” or higher, consider rescheduling sports games and other strenuous outdoor activities for another day. If you do go outside, aim for the early morning or evening hours, when air pollution levels are likely to be lower.
(Sources: American Lung Association. “State of the Air 2010: Air Quality Facts.” http://www.stateoftheair.org/2010/facts/; US EPA. “What Affects My Air Quality?” http://www.epa.gov/airnow/airaware/day2-detail.html; www.airnow.gov)