Clean air is a fundamental necessity for human health and the environment, and it's something we should never take for granted. Every year on September 7th, we celebrate the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. It's an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of clean air and to reflect on the current state of air quality, especially in regions like the United States that have been grappling with air quality issues due to factors like wildfires.
The Importance of International Day of Clean Air
International Day of Clean Air for blue skies was established by the United Nations to emphasize the importance of clean air for health, well-being, and the environment. It's a day for governments, organizations, and individuals to come together and take actions to improve air quality and mitigate air pollution. The day serves as a reminder that everyone has a role to play in preserving clean air for future generations.
The Current State of Air Quality in the United States
Air quality in the United States has seen significant improvements in recent decades due to stricter environmental regulations like the Clean Air Act and cleaner technologies.. However, it still faces challenges, particularly in areas prone to wildfires and industrial emissions. The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” 2023 report found that more than 1 in 3 Americans live in places with unhealthy levels of air pollution, and that people of color are 3.7 times more likely than white people to live in a county with three failing grades. The western United States, in particular, has been dealing with severe air quality issues caused by the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires.
Recent Wildfires and Air Quality
In recent years, the U.S. has witnessed devastating wildfires that have not only resulted in loss of life and property but have also significantly impacted air quality over large regions. Smoke and particulate matter from wildfires can travel long distances, affecting air quality in areas far from the fires themselves. Wildfire smoke contains harmful pollutants like fine particles (PM2.5) and toxic gasses that can have adverse health effects.
As of our latest update, parts of California, Oregon, and Washington are experiencing poor air quality due to ongoing wildfires. These conditions can be dangerous, especially for individuals with respiratory conditions, the elderly, and children. It's essential to stay informed about air quality conditions in your area, especially during wildfire season.
How To Stay Safe During Poor Air Quality Days
1. Monitor Air Quality: Stay informed about air quality in your area by checking local air quality indexes (AQI). You can use online resources, smartphone apps, or listen to local news for updates.
2. Limit Outdoor Activities: On days with poor air quality, it's advisable to limit outdoor activities, especially strenuous exercises. If you must go outside, try to do so during periods when air quality is better, such as early morning or late evening.
3. Create a Clean Indoor Environment: Ensure your home has good indoor air quality by using eco-friendly air purifiers, keeping windows and doors closed, and sealing any gaps that may let outdoor air in.
4. Use N95 Masks:If you need to be outdoors during poor air quality days, consider using N95 masks, which can filter out fine particles from the air.
5. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps your body flush out toxins that you may have inhaled.
6. Follow Medical Advice: Individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions should follow their healthcare provider's advice and have a supply of necessary medications on hand.
7. Support Clean Air Initiatives: Advocate for clean air policies, support organizations working to combat air pollution, and make environmentally conscious choices in your daily life.
International Day of Clean Air reminds us that clean air is a precious resource that affects our health and the well-being of our planet. While challenges persist, we can all contribute to cleaner air by taking responsible actions and advocating for positive change. By staying informed, taking precautions during poor air quality days, and supporting clean air initiatives, we can work toward a healthier, safer future for all. On this day and every day, let's breathe easier and work together for cleaner air and blue skies.