Fall Air Quality
Signs of fall are beginning to show – crisp mornings, cool evenings and vibrant colors are making their debut. As the seasons change, air quality concerns change too.
The arrival of cool temperatures has some residents firing up their wood heating stoves and fireplaces to take off the chill. And, perhaps some motorists are idling their vehicles to warm it up before the morning commute.
In each of these examples, and in many more, "human activities" are contributing to air pollution. Air pollution has a health consequence, especially for our most vulnerable citizens: the young and elderly, and those suffering from respiratory and heart ailments.
Why care about the air?
With every breath we take, our lungs are exposed to the world around us, filtering over 2,000 gallons of air a day. Breathing dirty air inflames and destroys lung tissue, and weakens the lungs' defenses against contaminants and infection. Air pollution also irritates the circulatory system aggravating existing cardio-vascular conditions.
Air pollution affects us all, especially the young, elderly, and those with respiratory and heart ailments. Even healthy people can suffer when pollution levels are high. Symptoms may include watery eyes, runny nose, coughing and wheezing. Breathing dirty air is especially hard on the elderly, pregnant women, as well as young children and infants whose lungs are still developing.
Fine particles pollution can be a concern in the fall. Fine particles are microscopic in size and result from combustion, such as wood heating, outdoor burning and driving. Numerous scientific studies have linked exposure to these tiny particles - approximately 1/30th the size of a human hair - with serious human health problems including premature death in people with heart and lung disease; nonfatal heart attacks; and increases hospital admissions and doctor and emergency room visits for respiratory and cardiovascular disease. More on Spokane's fine particle pollution and trends.
You can help
We all have a role in maintaining clean, healthful air quality. Whether at home, at work, or somewhere in between, there are ways to reduce your contribution to air pollution all year long! Click on a category for ideas to reduce air pollution.