This week we’ve taken a look at the details in the American Lung Association’s State of the Air — 2016 report and hopefully raised awareness of the very serious adverse health effects of air pollution, especially during pregnancy and early childhood. Today, we have “10 Tips to Protect Yourself from Unhealthy Air”:
- Check daily air pollution forecasts in your area. Download the American Lung Association’s State of the Air app on your mobile device through the Google Play Store or the iPhone iTunes store. Other sources include local radio and TV weather reports, newspapers and online at airnow.gov.
- Avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high. When the air is bad, walk indoors in a shopping mall or gym or use an exercise machine. Limit the amount of time your child spends playing outdoors if the air quality is unhealthy.
- Always avoid exercising near high-traffic areas. Even when air quality forecasts are green, the vehicles on busy highways can create high pollution levels up to one-third mile away.
- Use less energy in your home. Generating electricity and other sources of energy creates air pollution. By reducing energy use, you can help improve air quality, curb greenhouse gas emissions, encourage energy independence and save money! Check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s easy tips for conserving energy at home.
- Encourage your child’s school to reduce school bus emissions. To keep exhaust levels down, schools should not allow school buses to idle outside of their buildings. Many school systems are using the U.S. EPA’s Clean School Bus Campaign to clean up these dirty emissions.
- Walk, bike or carpool. Combine trips. Use buses, subways, light rail systems, commuter trains or other alternatives to driving your car.
- Don’t burn wood or trash. Burning firewood and trash are among the major sources of particle pollution (soot) in many parts of the country.
- Use hand-powered or electric lawn care equipment rather than gasoline-powered. Old two-stroke engines like lawnmowers and leaf or snow blowers often have no pollution control devices. They can pollute the air even more than cars, though engines sold since 2011 are cleaner.
- Don’t allow anyone to smoke indoors and support measures to make all public places tobacco free.
- Get involved. Start by checking out Fighting for Air which has more information about what you can do.
Bottom line: Help yourself and everyone else breathe easier. Support national, state and local efforts to clean up sources of pollution. Your life and the life of someone you love may depend on it.
Helping yourself and the ones you love begins with awareness. Start by going to www.airnow.gov and sign up to get daily air quality forecasts delivered to your inbox. (The American Lung Association’s State of the Air app provides the same information to your mobile phone.) Especially if you or your child have asthma or another chronic medical condition, having this information handy could be the difference between staying well and getting sick.
Let me add one more thing that parents can do to protect their children from harmful pollution: vote. We have the power to elect policymakers who use their scientific knowledge, critical thinking skills, and common sense to first, acknowledge reality, and, second, act for the good of public health. We shouldn’t have to expect anything more than that of our elected officials.
We shouldn’t expect anything less.
(State of the Air app/American Lung Association/Google Images)