MANCHESTER — As communities in the Northeast experience warmer temperatures this week, the American Lung Association urges residents here in New Hampshire and across the Northeast to be aware of the increased risk of ground-level ozone and take health precautions when levels are high.
One resource is their free State of the Air smartphone application, which monitors current levels of ozone and particle pollution and pushes out notifications when either pollutant reaches unhealthy levels in your area.
“Air pollution threatens the health of millions in the Northeast alone. With these increased temperatures comes the increased threat of hazardous levels of ozone pollution that can make people sick and even send people to the hospital,” said Jeff Seyler, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We are happy to be able to provide the State of the Air app so that those with lung disease, and without, can effectively monitor their local air quality and take action to limit their exposure to dangerous levels of air pollution.”
Despite continued improvements in air quality, unhealthy levels of air pollution still exist in communities across the country.
According to the Lung Association’s State of the Air 2013 report, more than 8.6 million people in the Northeast live in counties with dangerous levels of ozone or particle pollution, the two most widespread air pollutants.
The State of the Air app enables users to enter their zip code or use the geo-locator function to get current air quality conditions and the next-day air quality forecast.
The app tracks levels of both ozone and particle pollution, and pushes out alerts if local air quality is code orange — unhealthy for sensitive groups — or worse. Depending on the severity of the day’s air pollution, the app will provide vital health recommendations, advising that outdoor activities should be rescheduled or that people who work outdoors should limit extended or heavy exertion.
Heat and sunlight mixed with the pollution from tailpipes, smokestacks and other sources create ozone. Ozone is the most widespread air pollutant and can cause health problems like wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and even premature death. Exposure to ozone pollution has been likened to “a sunburn on the lungs.”
“Vehicle emissions are a major source of air pollution in New Hampshire and this year, EPA has an opportunity to set stricter standards on tailpipe emissions and to mandate cleaner burning gasoline,” said Lee Gilman, Senior Director of Health Promotion and Public Policy at the American Lung Association in New Hampshire. “It is important for New Hampshire residents to let EPA know that these standards, which are equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road, are vital to protecting public health. Introducing these new parameters would one cost about a penny per gallon. While the need for cleaner emissions from fuel-based sources is very present, we also need EPA to update its ozone standards so that they reflect scientific standards not the politically based standards that are currently in place.”
The air quality information provided is based on data made available to the public by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The American Lung Association app is available for iPhone in the App Store and for Android in Google Play or at lung.org/stateoftheairapp.