Hotter weather means high ozone days are approaching
As communities in the Mid-Atlantic states cope with extreme temperatures this week, the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic urges residents here in New Jersey and across the region to be aware of the increased risk of ground-level ozone and take health precautions when levels are high. One valuable resource is the free State of the Air® smartphone application, which monitors current levels of ozone and particle pollution and pushes out notifications when either pollutant reaches unhealthy levels in your area.
“Air pollution threatens the health of millions in the Mid-Atlantic states alone. With these increased temperatures comes the increased threat of hazardous levels of ozone pollution that can make people sick and even send people to the hospital,” said Deb Brown, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “We are happy to be able to provide the State of the Air app so that those with lung disease, and without, can effectively monitor their local air quality and take action to limit their exposure to dangerous levels of air pollution.”
Despite continued improvements in air quality, unhealthy levels of air pollution still exist in communities across the country. According to the Lung Association’s State of the Air 2013 report, more than 131.8 million people in the U.S. still live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, the two most widespread air pollutants.
The State of the Air app enables users to enter their zip code or use the geo-locator function to get current air quality conditions and the next-day air quality forecast. The app tracks levels of both ozone and particle pollution, and pushes out alerts if local air quality is code orange—unhealthy for sensitive groups—or worse. Depending on the severity of the day’s air pollution, the app will provide vital health recommendations—advising that outdoor activities should be rescheduled or that people who work outdoors should limit extended or heavy exertion.
Heat and sunlight mixed with the pollution from tailpipes, smokestacks and other sources create ozone. Ozone is the most widespread air pollutant and can cause health problems like wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and even premature death. Exposure to ozone pollution has been likened to “a sunburn on the lungs.”
“Vehicle emissions are a major source of air pollution, and this year, the EPA has an opportunity to set stricter standards on tailpipe emissions and to mandate cleaner burning gasoline,” said Brown. “It is important to let the EPA know that these standards, which are equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road, are vital to protecting public health. Introducing these new parameters would only cost about a penny per gallon.”
“While the need for cleaner emissions from fuel-based sources is very present, we also need the EPA to update its ozone standards so that they reflect scientific standards not the politically based standards that are currently in place,” continued Brown.
The air quality information provided is based on data made available to the public by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The American Lung Association app is available for iPhone in the App Store and for Android in Google Play or at www.lung.org/stateoftheairapp.
About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lungusa.org.