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Smog and the Air Quality Index

If you live in a city like Los Angeles or Washington, D.C., you’ve probably heard the terms “smog” and “air quality index” on your local news station during the weather report. You’ve also likely experienced days when the air seemed foggy or smoky; where a walk down the block might have left you coughing or feeling short of breath.

The quality of the air you breathe outside is just as important as the quality of the air you breathe indoors. It’s important to understand how outdoor air quality and harmful pollutants, like smog, affect the indoor air quality of your home or business and your interactions with the outdoors.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about outdoor air quality:

What Is the Air Quality Index?

According to the National Weather Service, the Air Quality Index, also known as “AQI,” is a measure of the five major pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act. The AQI measures the levels of each of these five pollutants: ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. The index offers six classifications, from “good” to “hazardous.”

When Is Air Quality the Worst?

Air pollution typically spikes on hot, sunny, cloud-free summer days. These conditions allow ground-level ozone—formed when nitrogen oxides (NOx) or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) interact with heat and sunlight—to combine with other forms of regulated air pollution, like particle pollution, packing a one-two punch that can contribute to smog and cause the significant degradation of outdoor air quality.

What Is Smog?

Smog is the most visible form of outdoor air pollution. In countries experiencing rapid industrialization, coal is a major contributor to dense clouds of smog. In cities like Los Angeles, auto exhaust is a major contributor to smog.

In summer, smog is composed of ground-level ozone. In winter, smog can be caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Weather patterns and geographic features of a given area can exacerbate the presence of airborne pollutants and smog by trapping impurities close to the ground.

What Can I Do to Protect Myself From Smog and Outdoor Air Pollution?

There are several simple steps you can take to reduce your exposure to air pollution. These include:

  • Improve the quality of the air you breathe indoors, at home or at work.
  • Heed warnings. If the Air Quality Index for your area indicates that the air in your city is “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” “unhealthy,” “very unhealthy” or “hazardous,” then reduce your time outside as much as possible that day. View the AQI for your zip code.
  • If the AQI is high, do not exercise outdoors.

How Can I Help Reduce Outdoor Air Pollution?

Looking for ways to reduce smog and outdoor air pollution in your community? Start with your own habits. Follow these tips to reduce the amount of pollution you emit in your everyday lifestyle:

  • Choose walking, biking or public transportation over driving.
  • If you must drive, start a carpool with your friends or coworkers.
  • Choose low-VOC products for your home, like low-VOC paint, whenever possible.
  • When shopping for new cars, opt for electric or hybrid options.
  • When shopping for new home appliances, choose from among the most efficient, energy-saving options.

Breathe Easy With Indoor Air Quality Service From Aire Serv

At Aire Serv®, we can help to lower your exposure to air pollution by helping you breathe easy in your home or office. If you’re seeking indoor air quality service you can count on, you need Aire Serv.

Schedule an appointment online or contact the Aire Serv location nearest you to see how we can test and help improve the air quality in your home.

Breathe Easy with Aire Serv

  • Upfront Pricing: We know that you want to know what you’re getting yourself into when you schedule service. We price by the job, not by the hour.
  • Anytime Service: We’re there when it’s convenient for you: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • No Overtime Charge: We have the same low pricing any time of day or night, weekends, or holidays.
  • “Fixed Right” Promise: You want the issue to be fixed—and fixed right. We promise it’ll be fixed right the first time, or it’s free.

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