May is Air Quality Awareness Month
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Air Quality Awareness Month Encourages Residents to “Get to Know Your Air Quality”
Illinois EnviroFlash Delivers Air Quality Alerts via Email or Text Message
The Illinois EPA and Illinois Partners for Clean Air have teamed up to promote Air Quality Awareness Month in Illinois. With a proclamation from Governor Pat Quinn declaring May as Air Quality Awareness Month, the goal is to help educate the public about air quality concerns and encourage residents to regularly check their local air quality forecast.
Air pollution levels often increase between early May and late September. Air pollutants, specifically ozone and particulate matter, can affect a person’s respiratory and pulmonary system. To better inform the public about ozone, particulate matter and other air quality matters, the Illinois EPA and Illinois Partners for Clean Air promote the EnviroFlash system.
Illinois EnviroFlash (http://illinois.enviroflash.info) is a free e-mail alert system that delivers air quality information straight to an individual’s inbox or cell phone. Subscribing to the service requires an email address and ZIP code. Once registered, subscribers will receive alerts with the Air Quality Index (AQI) forecasts for the closest forecasting city. Those forecasts will identify the pollutant of greatest concern by region for the following day. Illinois’ forecasting cities include: Chicago, Rockford, Rock Island-Moline, Peoria, Springfield and St. Louis metro areas.
“Air Quality Awareness Month is a time to inform Illinois residents on the importance of knowing their local air quality and encouraging them to take steps to protect their health,” said Illinois EPA Interim Director John Kim. “Illinois EnviroFlash is a free tool to help all residents stay informed.”
By registering on the EnviroFlash system, individuals can select the level of information they receive. Notices can be sent daily, on days when air quality is forecasted as moderate (yellow) or any higher level. EnviroFlash alerts can help people stay better informed of the risks associated with unhealthy air pollution levels. Groups most susceptible to the risks include children (especially those with asthma), older adults, people with respiratory or heart diseases and people who are active outdoors.
Some ways to protect your health include planning activities with higher exertion during cooler times of the day, reducing exertion or limiting the time of exposure. In addition, individuals are encouraged to follow tips to reduce contributions to air pollution. Those include:
- Take public transit, Rideshare, walk or bike; drive fuel-efficient vehicles.
- When driving, try to plan trips for the evening (when sunlight is not as strong), consolidate destinations and avoid idling.
- Turn off and unplug electronics when not in use.
- Adjust thermostats two degrees warmer in the summer and two degrees cooler in the winter.
- Purchase ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and electronics.
- Switch to energy efficient lighting.
- Purchase environmentally friendly household products such as natural cleaners.
- Use a charcoal chimney instead of lighter fluid when grilling.
- Do not burn leaves and other yard waste.
- Do not use gas-powered equipment or fire pits on days when air pollution is elevated.
“Knowing the local air quality is empowering,” said Interim Director Kim. “One email or text message gives you the ability to take necessary steps to protect you and your family’s health and improve the air quality.”
EnviroFlash is a service is made possible through a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A copy of Governor Quinn’s proclamation is attached. Additional information on air quality can be found at www.cleantheair.org.