How Clean is the Air You're Breathing?
Air Quality and Exercise
Particulate Matter and Air Quality
Particulate matter is a broad term used to describe solid particles sometimes found in the air. These particles are coarse in nature and some can even be seen with the naked eye, like dust particles or soot. The particles may come from cars and trucks that stir up dust on the road, factory emissions and windblown dirt on trails. This form of pollution may impair respiratory function and decrease lung function, especially with exercise.
Ozone and Pollution
Air quality is a concern for everyone. Exercising outdoors in some cities may put people at a greater risk for complications from frequent exposure to ozone than for those who do not. Ozone is pollution formed from the emissions of cars and trucks, wood burning stoves, chemical or industrial plants and refineries. These pollutants have a chemical reaction to heat and sunlight. The ozone created has a negative impact on the Earth’s atmosphere, plants, animals and humans.
Exposure to ozone can irritate the respiratory system and aggravate asthma. Symptoms include:
• Respiratory irritation
• Coughing and wheezing
• Difficulty taking a full breath
• Tightness of the chest
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has produced an Air Quality Index (AQI) to make it easy to understand the current air quality conditions. The index has a range from 0-500; the higher the value, the higher the level of air pollution in the atmosphere.
Air Quality Index and Information
During the hot months of summer, it is easy to find out the AQI in any city by listening to local forecasts or by logging onto the United States site.
Did you Know?
Environmental Protection Agency studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be 2-5 times, and occasionally more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels. These levels of indoor air pollutants may be of particular concern because most people spend about 90% of their time indoors.
Trivia on Air Quality
A great test for air quality is the presence of lichen and moss. This family of algae and fungi that grows on rocks, trees and soil, from ocean shorelines to mountain peaks, will only grow where the air and other environmental conditions are clean.