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Air Quality Awareness Week Begins

May 2, 2011

By WeatherBug Meteorologists


The week of May 2-6 has been designated Air Quality Awareness Week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Weather Service.

Air pollution takes on many forms, but in the U.S., ozone and particle pollution are the most common.

Ozone in the upper levels of the atmosphere protects us from the sun`s most dangerous rays. Unfortunately, ozone found near the ground makes for unhealthy breathing. Ozone is formed when pollutants interact with sunshine and generally reaches peak levels during the heat of the late-afternoon and early-evening, generally starting in late spring and lasting through the summer. Sources of this type of pollution range from automobiles to industry.

Particle pollution is exactly as it sounds; tiny particles that can cause the haze or smog that we often associate with cities.

Levels of both pollutants rise during times of light wind which leads to increased concentrations near the ground. Exposure to polluted air has been linked to a variety of health complications.

High levels of pollution are especially dangerous for children, persons with breathing and heart disorders and the elderly. People in these sensitive groups are advised to avoid strenuous outdoor activity once the Air Quality Index (AQI) rises above 101 (orange).

The most up-to-date AQI for your area is available in WeatherBug`s Outdoor Health section. Click here for an explanation on the AQI.

Be sure to keep WeatherBug active to receive the latest weather in your neighborhood and get the latest updates anywhere on Twitter at WeatherBug WeatherBuzz.

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