Air Quality Awareness Week 2017: “Be Air Aware”

  • May 05, 2017

Air Quality Awareness Week

Air Quality Awareness week occurs every year during the first week of May. This nationwide event in the U.S. is held by the Environmental Protection Agency. The goal of the week is to make people more aware of the effects they have on air quality and air pollution and vice versa.

Air quality affects people all over the world and can even be changed by the weather. For example, thunderstorms in Australia caused a massive outbreak of thunderstorm asthma, which occurs when the weather disrupts the air quality.

“Be Air Aware”

This year’s theme is: “Be Air Aware!” Areas of focus for this year’s week include:

May 1, 2017: Wildfires

Wildfires are important to focus on because there are pollutants in smoke. even after authorities extinguish wildfires, fine particulate matter is still a concern in remaining smoke. This can lead to premature death, cardiovascular effects and respiratory effects. People with heart or lung disease, older adults and children are most at risk.

May 2, 2017: Asthma and Air Quality

Air quality plays a big role in asthma sufferers. Pollution can trigger asthma or worsen attacks. It’s important for asthma sufferers to minimize their exposure by being air aware. Remember, if you are physically active outside, follow the EPA’s outdoor activity guidance. Other good tips include being aware of delayed attacks after being exposed to pollutants, taking extra care in the summer and following your asthma action plan when the AQI forecast reaches Code Orange.

May 3, 2017: Air Quality Trends

A lot of people check the AQI every day or every week to find out if today will be an unhealthy air quality day. But do you ever wonder if the number of unhealthy days is going up or down? Trends in air quality reports show that for 35 metropolitan areas in the U.S., the total number of unhealthy days for ozone and fine particle pollution since the year 2000 is on its way down since 2000.

May 4, 2017: Air Quality Around the World

While Air Quality Awareness week is nationally recognized in the U.S., air quality is an important environmental factor all around the world. AirNow includes air quality data from more than a dozen sites around the world. What’s great is that interest in AirNow and the Air Quality Index has been increasing internationally. Air quality professionals worldwide can learn more about how AirNow is helping countries and regions around the world inform the public about the quality of the air they breathe through the AirNow-International initiative.

May 5, 2017: Citizen Science

The last day of Air Quality Awareness week follows the theme: Citizen science. The EPA wants U.S. citizens to become citizen scientists. U.S. residents can obtain an EPA Air Sensor Toolbox so they can measure air quality at your location. Building a network to measure air quality is important. Large networks of sensors like our weather network and lightning network not only have more information than single-node sensors, but they provide coverage that can follow storms, wildfire smoke and other air quality issues as they move. You can learn more about becoming a citizen science for environmental protection here.

Take Action

While they week is almost over, it’s never too late to take action to improve air quality in your community. There are a number of ways you can be air aware every day, besides setting up your own sensor. The first way you can be air aware is to limit your driving and idling. Carpooling, combining errands, using public transportation or working from home are all great ways to improve air quality.

Another great way to reduce your contribution to air pollution is to be smart about how you use energy. Remember to turn the lights off at your home or office after you’re done using them. You can also set your thermostat a little higher when the weather gets warm. Rely on IoT applications to turn your air on for you at the right time for your home still to be comfortable when you get home.