Dreary News Regarding Worldwide Air Pollution Highlights Critical Need for Individuals to do Their Share for Cleaner Air

Article courtesy of the Clean Air Partnership

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 7 million people across the globe are currently dying each year from air pollution. This startling news comes as the Clean Air Partnership prepares to kick off the start of air quality forecasting for 2014, and serves as yet another important reminder of how critical it is for all of us to do our part to help keep the air clean.

The health effects of poor air quality are numerous and can include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, headaches, nausea, eye and throat irritation and decreased lung function. Additional risks include aggravation of respiratory problems, asthma, allergies and lung diseases; impairment of the immune system, increased hospital and ER visits and irregular heartbeat, heart attacks and premature death in those with heart or lung disease.

“This new information from the WHO indicates that the health effects of air pollution are far greater than originally thought, especially when it comes to heart disease and stroke,” noted Susannah Fuchs, Senior Director of Environmental Health for the American Lung Association of the Plains-Gulf Region and spokesperson for the Clean Air Partnership. “While children, the elderly and those who suffer from respiratory disease are at the greatest health risk from air pollution, its effects can impact the health of all of us.”

As temperatures rise, so does the threat of poor air quality and its related health effects. With spring now in full swing, the Clean Air Partnership will resume its daily air quality forecasts on May 1, and is once again ramping up its efforts to educate St. Louis area residents on the steps they can take to keep air quality in the healthy range.

“This is the time of year when it’s very important for area residents to stay updated on the air quality forecast,” said Fuchs. “When conditions are predicted to be in the unhealthy orange and red ranges, we want to see people adjusting their behaviors and their outdoor plans accordingly.”

Since the way we commute has one of the most profound effects on our air quality, actions like using transit, carpooling, vanpooling, telecommuting and combining errands into a single trip can help reduce emissions when poor air quality is forecasted. On these orange and red days, the elderly, children and those with respiratory concerns, who are at the greatest health risk from poor air quality, should plan to limit their time outdoors.

For additional information on the health effects of poor air quality and tips designed to help reduce emissions, individuals are encouraged to visit the Clean Air Partnership’s website at www.cleanair-stlouis.com. Starting May 1, the daily air quality forecast will be posted on the website. Area residents can also visit the website to sign up to receive the forecast via email. Throughout the summer, the forecast can also be found on the Clean Air Partnership’s Facebook page or by following the organization on Twitter @gatewaycleanair.