Air Quality Where You Live
Air quality may not be the first thing on your mind, but you will quickly notice it when it gets significantly dirtier or cleaner.
How is the air quality where you live? Did you know that your local air quality can impact your health and the health of your loved ones?
While you can control the air quality in your home, you must also be concerned with the air quality in your region. Here is a breakdown of what you need to know about air quality.
What is the Air Quality Index, and How Does it Work?
The air quality index measures how much particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide are in the air in any given area.
Many monitoring stations utilize PM2.5 and PM10 data to determine the local air quality. As a whole, the lower the air quality score, the better. Areas with a score over 100 are generally unsafe for people with respiratory diseases, growing increasingly uninhabitable as the score increases.
How Can Poor Air Quality Affect Your Health?
Poor air quality can severely affect human health, from aggravating any existing allergies to outright impairing lung function.
Long-term exposure to air pollution can result in anything from lung cancer to diabetes and nerve damage. All side effects depend on what kind of pollutants you face. For example, animal dander is more likely to result in an allergic reaction, while carbon monoxide can result in chest pain or death.
Indoor Air Contaminants
An indoor environment is affected far more by the activities of fewer people. When you smoke outside, the cigarette smoke may contribute a minor amount to your local air quality, but indoors, smoke and gas have nowhere to go- and get trapped.
Radon, smoke, and pets are common sources of indoor air contaminants. If you live in a humid environment, you may also be at risk of elevated mold and mildew levels.
Ultimately, it is not healthy to inhale smoke, whether it's from a cigarette or a wood fireplace. Wood fires exude carbon monoxide, ashes, volatile organic compounds, tars, and potentially toxic gasses that can fill a room and have lethal consequences.
If you have a wood fireplace or furnace, you must also have a clean and well-ventilated chimney to keep the residents of your home safe from the effects of wood smoke.
Lung cancer is one of the most significant and common effects of long-term exposure to poor air quality. Pollutants, such as car emissions, may cause lung cancer in healthy people- but they may also cause breast cancer in women.
One study found that residents of regions that rely on coal for energy are more likely to develop lung cancer than residents of clean cities.
Cardiovascular And Respiratory Diseases
Your lungs are not the only part of your body that high levels of air pollution can affect with negative health impacts. Fine particulate pollution can enter your bloodstream and affect the efficiency of your bloodstream, potentially calcifying your arteries and causing or exacerbating illnesses such as heart disease or cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, pollutants can cause or exacerbate respiratory diseases such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, resulting in impaired lung function and development.
How Can I Protect Myself and My Family From Poor Air Quality?
Thankfully, poor air quality is not a definitive matter. Even if the air quality in your region or state is deficient, you can improve the air quality in your home or protect yourself from many of the adverse effects when you step outside.
Here are some of the best ways to improve the air quality of your home and protect the respiratory health of yourself and your loved ones.
Install Central Air Conditioning
A high-quality air conditioning system can have an extreme and positive effect on your family's health. When you keep your windows and door closed, no new air can get into your home except for clean air that your HVAC system has already treated.
When you regularly change the filter in a central AC system, you ensure a constant supply of clean, high-quality air in your home.
Avoid Stirring Up Dust
If you are worried about your home's indoor air pollutants in an immediate time frame, you should avoid cleaning for the time being.
Your home may have a layer of dust over it, but when you vacuum or dust, you kick more dust and debris into the air. If your air quality is already at an unhealthy level, consider putting off any cleaning measures until you solve other indoor sources.
Alternatively, you can invest in a HEPA-filtered vacuum and utilize wet mopping to catch dust without kicking more indoor air pollutants up.
Use Safety Equipment
If you're going outside into a polluted environment or are entering a building with high amounts of pollutants, you can utilize an N95 mask to minimize or outright negate any potential health effects from particulates and smoke.
Alternatively, you can utilize an air purifier to remove indoor air pollutants from your home. However, you must consider that air purifiers only work in a defined range, so you may need to purchase multiple for your home.
What States Have the Best Air Quality?
Air quality is not a universal constant. The air quality in certain locations can vary wildly. In America, air quality can vary from state to state- and each state can have air quality that alters from city to city or neighborhood to neighborhood.
However, it is essential to note that Americans spend around 90% of their time indoors, where indoor air pollutants feature a higher concentration than their outdoor counterparts. These measurements only concern themselves with outdoor air quality.
Here are the five states with the best air quality. If you or somebody in your family has a type of pulmonary or lung disease, these states may be a healthy option for them.
Hawaii has the cleanest air in the U.S. by a large margin, with an air quality score of 21.2. The air quality index ranks this score as excellent The American Lung Association lists Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, as one of the cleanest cities in America for ozone and particle pollution.
Alaska has the second-cleanest air in the United States, measuring 29.1 on the air quality index.
However, residents of cities like Anchorage face particle pollution issues, as their homes often rely on burning wood to heat their homes. With proper ventilation, however, you can easily minimize the effect of these issues
Washington state ranks third for the best average air quality, ranking in the air quality index at 33.5. However, this ranking comes with a caveat. Washington has a wide range of air qualities. Certain regions and cities rank among the cleanest in America, while others rank among the most polluted.
It may be worth doing extra research to determine your local average pollution concentration if you live in Washington.
Oregon comes in at the fourth best air quality in America, with an index of 36.1. Oregon is unique among these listed states in that every registered citizen lives in an area where the air quality is up to federal criteria, even if the overall air quality is worse than in other states.
Maine has the fifth cleanest air in America, with an air quality index of 36.5. Maine saw significant improvement in its toxic pollution between 2018 and 2019, bumping it to fifth place.
However, some residents still live in polluted cities- particularly those that rely on wood heating or coal mining.
What States Have the Worst Air Quality?
On the other hand, there are some states with air quality that is less than ideal. Thankfully, no American states cross the danger threshold of 100 points, though many of the worst air qualities fall around the halfway point.
Here are the five states in America with the worst air quality.
Utah has the lowest average air quality in America, scoring at 51.2 on the index.
This score lands Utah just over halfway to the high-risk zone, though the air quality index considers this a moderate score. On average, it is more polluted than any other state, but it is not dangerous.
Georgia is tied with Ohio for the second-worst air quality in the United States, with an air quality index score of 48.2. This score barely keeps Georgia in the range that the air quality index considers good.
Ohio ties with Georgia at 48.2, barely staying within the 'good' range.
West Virginia has an air quality index score of 47.6, giving it the fourth-lowest score in the United States.
Much of this pollution comes from the many power plants in West Virginia, which many experts believe may be a significant source of pollutants for other states- especially West Virginia's neighbors.
Indiana is just slightly behind West Virginia, with an air quality index of 47.5. With underfunded public transit and an overreliance on personal vehicles, the high number of cars results in increased emissions that pollute the state.
Air quality is a vital factor to consider when concerning yourself with your family's health. Even residents of the cleanest cities on the planet may have poor air quality in their homes if they do not take preventative measures.
This article has only scratched the surface of how air quality can lead to adverse health effects. For more information on how to keep yourself safe from exposure to air pollution, visit Airzey today.