The summer months generally have more days with poor air quality. Ground-level ozone (smog) levels increase due to warmer temperatures, which can lead to difficulty breathing. This summer has been no different — and has also featured additional air pollution from wildfires in the U.S.
Poor air quality can be bad for anyone. However, it is especially concerning for vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and people living with lung disease. Periodically, the Illinois EPA will call an air pollution action day to indicate particularly bad air quality. On these days labeled “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” people included should try to avoid strenuous physical activity, stay cool inside, and hydrate.
Everyone can take steps on action days to reduce air pollution and protect people in their communities, including:
- 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.
- 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 enviroflash.info.
Keep an eye on local news and weather alerts or visit airnow.gov, which also provides daily air quality updates by location. As a lung health advocate, sharing this information can help everyone breathe easier when summer air pollution increases.