Rising Temperatures Lead To Increased Risk For Poor Air Quality

Article courtesy of the Clean Air Partnership

The start of summer is just around the corner in the St. Louis area, and with it we’re now enjoying blooming flowers and trees, extra hours of daylight and warmer weather. While most of us love this time of year and the opportunity to get outside, the season also signals the start of an increased risk of poor air quality conditions.

As temperatures rise, sunlight and heat react with emissions from motor vehicles, industrial facilities and other sources to create ozone pollution. The health effects of the poor air quality that result from ozone pollution 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. While the elderly, children and those with respiratory concerns are at the greatest health risk from poor air quality, its effects can impact the health of all of us.

Since the time we spend behind the wheel has one of the most profound effects on our air quality, actions like using transit, carpooling, vanpooling, choosing not to idle, telecommuting and combining errands into a single trip can all play an important role in helping to reduce ozone pollution and improve lung health during the summer months. Over the summer, area residents are also encouraged to stay updated on the daily air quality forecast, so that they are aware when conditions are expected to enter the unhealthy orange and red ranges.

“The St. Louis region is preparing to settle into the time of year when air quality conditions are often at their worst,” said Susannah Fuchs, Director, Clean Air for the American Lung Association in Missouri. “This is why it’s so important for individuals to monitor the air quality forecast and continue to take voluntary steps to reduce the emissions that lead to poor air quality.”

Area residents can visit the Clean Air Partnership at www.cleanair-stlouis.com to sign up to receive the daily air quality forecast via email. Throughout the summer, the forecast can also be found on the Clean Air Partnership’s Facebook page or on Twitter @gatewaycleanair. Additional information on the health effects of poor air quality and tips designed to help reduce emissions are available at www.cleanair-stlouis.com.