The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that Air Quality Awareness Week for 2020 will be celebrated May 4-8. This year’s theme is Better Air, Better Health.
For each day, there will be a focus on different aspects of air quality to raise awareness and encourage people to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) daily. As we head into the summer months, this is a great time to review how the air outside impacts our lives.
Below, you’ll find the highlights of each day’s topic, along with some questions you may want the answers to. For further information, check on the EPA site during Air Quality Awareness Week.
First, we wanted to include some ways in which Aprilaire is thinking about Air Quality in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Aprilaire’s Plan for Healthy Air Awareness
At Aprilaire, our focus is on the health and wellness of your home environment. We’ve assembled a Healthy Air System to help protect you and your family from viruses and other illnesses. It’s made up of three parts:
- Fresh Air Ventilation – Helps dilute and remove contaminants because indoor air can be up to 5 times more polluted than the air outside
- Air Filtration – Aprilaire MERV 16 Allergy & Asthma Filters capture up to 96%* of virus-size airborne particles (*Contaminants removed based on air passing through the filtering system)
- Humidity Control – Keeping humidity between 30-60% minimizes virus survival rates
We will provide updates as the situation progresses, and we wish all the best for you and your family.
Air Quality Awareness Week
Monday: Wildfires and Smoke
Wildfires produce a lot of air pollution, from smoke to fine particles that can cause several health problems. Recent years have shown that extreme wildfires may become a regular occurrence that we need to learn to live with.
- How can I get myself and my home ready for fire season?
- How can I protect my family and pets from smoke and ash?
- How can I stay safe if I need to go outside?
Tuesday: Asthma and Your Health
Air quality is a major concern for individuals fighting asthma, a disease that affects the airways of your lungs. Discover more about the effects of the air we breathe on our overall health through action plans, trigger avoidance, allergen avoidance and more.
Fitting in physical activity may be difficult for asthma and allergy sufferers as we deal with “stay-at-home” orders and a lack of available indoor workout space. Use this day to discover fun, creative ways to stay active in the indoor space you have available.
- How do I know if going outside will impact my asthma?
- Are there specific questions I should ask my doctor regarding air quality?
- How can I stay active when unable to go outside?
Wednesday: Where Is Your AQI Coming From?
According to the National Weather Service, “The Air Quality Index (AQI) is used for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.”
The AQI is calculated by the EPA for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act:
- ground-level ozone
- particle pollution or particulate matter
- carbon monoxide
- sulfur dioxide
- nitrogen dioxide
The Air Quality Index is divided into six categories:
Orange=Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
- Are there any steps I can take when I need to go outside on days with less-than-ideal air quality?
- Is there anything we can do to improve the air quality in our area?
- What’s the fastest way to check the AQI? Does it change throughout the day?
Thursday: Air Quality Around the World
The EPA reported that over one-fifth of all U.S. citizens spent significant time abroad in recent years. In order to provide those travelers with air quality data while overseas, the Department of State partnered with the EPA to install and operate state-of-the-art AirNow monitors at U.S. embassies and consulates in over fifty countries around the world.
- When will it be safe to travel abroad?
- What resources are there in foreign countries in case of an asthma attack or other medical issue?
- What should I know about the air quality on airplanes and other transit options?
Friday: Air Quality Resources for Families and Teachers
Throughout Air Quality Awareness Week, the EPA will share air quality resources from lots of different organizations across the country. If you have any activities, videos, or materials for students and teachers, you can send links to firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the Educational Resources page. You can also tag @airnow in your social media posts and include the hashtag #AQAW2020.
- What are some ways I can show kids the importance of air quality? (Try starting with this simple experiment.)
- How will I know if my child is impacted by outdoor air quality issues?
- How do I optimize the air quality inside my home?