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June 16, 2023

Another Pivotal Building Block for Your Health – the Air

You’ve heard recommendations to eat your vegetables, get sleep, take vitamins, wash your hands, but now, there may be a new consideration to add to the list. We all may need to check the air quality around us. Recent wildfires in Canada have triggered air quality alerts across several United States.

The EPA monitors the air around the United States and compiles an air quality index, or AQI. The EPA uses this tracking measure to monitor the amount of pollutants in the air, and it can be a helpful tool to educate people on what they may experience when they go outside.

The higher the AQI number, the worse the air quality. The range of the index is broken down into six color-coded categories. The green or yellow range generally signals the air is clear. Once the index value drops into orange, the air quality could be a concern for sensitive groups like children, older adults, or those with health conditions. Values in the red and purple zones indicate the air quality is considered unhealthy for everyone, while an index value in the maroon range calls for precautions to avoid breathing the dangerous air. Such precautions can include reducing outdoor activities, running air purifiers, and masking up.

The Canadian wildfires may introduce fine particles that can get into our lungs, causing short-term and possibly long-term health issues. As we continue to experience extreme weather, monitoring the air quality may be a good step to manage our overall health and wellbeing.

We may also see an increase in calls for legislation or in litigation around air quality, pollution, or clean up. In May 2023, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the EPA complaining about the EPA violating the Clean Air Act by delaying whether to approve or reject Pennsylvania’s plan to clean up smog from the methane gas industry. This leaves us wondering, how can we clean up the air?

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