Air Quality Awareness Week marks the beginning of smog season and is an annual opportunity for all of us to review issues surrounding air quality in our communities and the precautions we need to take to ensure our family’s health.
What is Smog?
Smog is another term for ground level ozone, which is formed when nitrogen oxide (NOx)combines with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight. NOx are a by-product of fossil fuel combustion (oil, natural gas, coal) and so come from cars and trucks, power plants, and industrial processes. (definition via MothersandOthersforCleanAir.org)
Exposure to many pollutants in the air can result in a range of adverse health effects from shortness of breath and coughing to heart attacks and lung cancer. Check out Mothers and Others’ Health Effects of Bad Air Fact Sheet for more information.
Georgia Guide to Air Qualilty Awareness Week
1. World Asthma Day
May begins with World Asthma Day on May1! Join me at at the Fulton County Health & Wellness event “Asthma Awareness: Putting the Pieces Together.” In an effort to combat asthma, the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Division of Health Promotion, is launching the Fulton Asthma Improvement and Reduction (FAIR) program to focus on the state of asthma in Fulton County. The FAIR kick off panel discussion will raise awareness about asthma and allow participants to share strategies for improving asthma care throughout Fulton County. The event is May 1, 10am – 2 pm at the Fulton County Aldredge HealthCenter. Click here to register! Seating is limited.
2. Get Informed: Air Quality 101
As smog season 2012 approaches, please consider making a commitment to at least one personal action to reduce your contribution to smog this summer. At the same time, ensure you have the tools you need to reduce your and your family’s exposure to smog by bookmarking Georgia Environmental Protection’s air quality forecast site and reviewing and sharing Mothers & Others guidance documents on outdoor air quality and physical activity.
3. Clean Air Campaign
The Clean Air Campaign invites schools to observe the week by incorporating activities on air quality, sources and types of air pollution, and actions to reduce air pollution and improve health in their school community.
For Clean Air Schools, Air Quality Awareness Week is a prime occasion to celebrate the pounds of pollution your school has already taken out of the air through No-Idling, Ride the Bus! For Clean Air and Pool to School programs.
Teachers can download the 2012 teacher’s guides for planning tips, air pollution resources and classroom activities at the Clean Air Campaign Website.
4. M&O School Air Quality Index (AQI) Flag Program
Many school nurses, principals and teachers are concerned about high rates of asthma among students and faculty. They welcome the flag program as a way to ensure all staff, as well as parents who see the flag when dropping off their children, are aware when air pollution concentrations are high. Flying a flag that corresponds to the day’s air quality index—green, yellow, orange or red—makes air quality forecasts highly visible to the school community, including parents, faculty, staff and children. In addition, the flags are flown daily, in contrast to the smog alert system that only comes into play if the air is unhealthy. As a result, while taking precautions when the flag is orange or red, teachers and coaches can celebrate green days and use the green flag as a visual cue to get active outdoors when air quality is good.
Mothers & Others for Clean Air is expanding the AQI flag program to other Georgia schools as we head into the 2011 smog season. Contact Mothers & Others if your school is interested in participating.
More information can be found here
5. Mothers & Others for Clean Air Newsletter
This is a comprehensive resource for your need to know information on local clean air initiatives, legislation, updates, health information, resources and events. If you would like to receive the newsletter please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Check the Air Quality Index
Georgians can check their Air Quality Index here
Additional Resources for National Clean Air Information-
NOAA’s Air Quality Awareness Week Resources
EPA’s Air Quality Awareness Week Resources
AirNow.gov Local Air Quality Conditions and Forecasts