Air Quality Awareness Week will be celebrated across the U.S. from May 2-6, 2022. Did you know that in 2018, Baltimore was identified in the top 10 cities in the U.S. with bad air quality for more than 100 days per annum? Check Baltimore’s air quality (or the air quality wherever you are located) on the AirNow website.
Air quality awareness is more than just understanding the Air Quality Index (AQI) forecast that utilizes the color-coded system to measure how healthy the air is to breathe that day. Some of the most widely recognized negative health impacts of air pollution include childhood asthma and adult cardiovascular disease. Understanding the importance of the air quality forecasts and their direct relation to health impacts will make the difference between allowing children outside to play during Code Orange air quality days or reducing exposure by simply rescheduling an activity for a time when air quality is expected to be better.
See below for a summary of the cumulative recommendations based on the AQI for the day:
- 0 to 50 – Good: no restrictions
- 51 to 100 – Moderate: exceptionally sensitive individuals should limit intense activities
- 101 to 150 – Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups: make indoor space available for those with asthma or other respiratory problems
- 151 to 200 – Unhealthy: any person who complains of difficulty breathing or who has respiratory problems should be allowed to remain indoors; decrease intensity of activities; consider rescheduling or relocating lengthy events
- 201 to 300 – Very Unhealthy: restrict outdoor activities to light to moderate exercise; sustained rigorous exercise or lengthy events should be rescheduled, relocated indoors, or discontinued
For the full chart of recommendations on how to modify plans for outdoor activities on poor air quality days, here’s a resource from our colleagues at UMBC. Learn more about air quality at airnow.gov, and visit the Maryland Department of the Environment website for more information about air quality specifically in Maryland.
- EPA: Particle Pollution and Cardiovascular Effects
- CDC Million Hearts: Particle Pollution and Heart Disease
- American Heart Association: Particulate Matter Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease
- The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health