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August is Respiratory Health Month
Summer is the season when you spend more time outside soaking up the sun, swimming, barbecuing, or even camping. While you are having fun outdoors, it’s important to pay attention to the air quality and the affect it may have on your respiratory health. High temperatures, stagnant air, and airborne pollution can brew a dangerous mixture for your lungs.
Common threats are invisible gases called “bad” ozone. “Good” ozone resides in the outer layer of Earth’s atmosphere and protects us from the sun’s UV radiation. “Bad” ozone is the ozone that is found in our lower layer of atmosphere, the one we breathe. This ozone is created by things that burn fuel, like cars, power plants, and wildfires. These threats can reduce lung function and lead to symptoms like coughing, throat irritation, watery eyes, and chest pain. Poor air quality is also associated with cardiovascular problems such as stroke and heart attack.
You can monitor your local air quality by checking the Air Quality Index (AQI) created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The AQI assesses air pollution on different color-coded levels, ranging from a safe green level to a hazardous dark red level. It’s important to take the reports seriously and limit your time outside during bad air quality days. Health consequences from exposure can come on quickly or even worsen with time, sometimes lingering for months or years. However, exposure doesn’t always disturb your breathing that day. People often feel the effects most strongly the next day or the day after.
Visit Air Now and find your local air quality report to stay informed.
Focus on your respiratory health by trying the breathing exercises featured on the full newsletter.