Air Pollution Action Day Called for June 18

Air Pollution Levels to Bring Widespread Unhealthy Air Quality Throughout Chicago Area on Thursday
Air Pollution Exposure a Risk Factor for COVID-19

June 16, 2020 – Chicago, IL — Respiratory Health Association is alerting the public that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is declaring an Air Pollution Action Day for Thursday, June 18 in the Chicago metro area – including the city, north, south and west suburbs. Adjacent areas in Wisconsin and Indiana are also expected to see elevated air pollution levels. Groups who are sensitive to air pollution, including children, elderly people, people who work outdoors, and those living with lung disease should take appropriate precautions.

Warm, summer-like temperatures will lead to increased ground-level ozone (smog) on Wednesday, causing air quality to potentially reach the ‘Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups’ level or higher across much of the region. To avoid possible breathing problems related to breathing ozone smog, people in sensitive groups, especially those living with lung diseases like asthma and COPD, should try to limit outdoor activity, stay cool and comfortable – preferably in an air-conditioned area—limit strenuous physical activity, and stay hydrated.

Employers and residents of the Chicago metropolitan area are asked to follow “green actions” like those described below to help reduce air pollution on Wednesday. These groups are also encouraged to share air quality forecasts and Action Day alerts with colleagues, friends, and family to help protect their health.

• Limit driving if you can — consider walking, biking, or working from home if possible.
• If driving, avoid idling, and try to run errands after 7 pm when sunlight is not as strong.
• Avoid using gasoline-powered equipment on Air Pollution Action Days.
• Set your thermostat up 2 degrees to limit air pollution from fossil fuel power plants.
• Turn off and unplug electronics not in use.
• Do not burn leaves and other yard waste.
• Sign-up to receive air quality forecasts via email at www.enviroflash.info.

High air pollution levels are additionally concerning now, as people exposed to higher pollution levels may be at greater risk of getting sick with COVID-19. This may exacerbate infection rates in communities of color already disproportionally harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. People living in these communities also face higher rates of lung diseases such as asthma.

For more information or to talk about the health impacts of air pollution on communities throughout the Chicago area, please contact Brian Urbaszewski, Director, Environmental Health Programs at Respiratory Health Association. He is available by e-mail at [email protected] or via phone at 312-405-1175.

Respiratory Health Association (RHA) has been a local public health leader in Chicago since 1906. RHA works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air and help people live better through education, research and policy change. To learn more, visit resphealth.org.