Air Quality Awareness Week (AQAW) 2022 has been designated as May 2 – May 6. AQAW corresponds with ozone season, wildfire season, and World Asthma Day. The theme for AQAW 2022 is “Be Air Aware & Prepared.”Continue reading
A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.
In 2016, 115 Americans died every day from an opioid overdose – that is more than 42,000 drug overdose deaths that involved an opioid including prescription opioids, heroin, and/or illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Prescription opioids (like hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine) are prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain, but have serious risks and side effects.
Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them. Families across the county are dealing with the health, emotional, and economic effects of the opioid epidemic. The opioid overdose epidemic is a public health emergency and Americans of all races and ages are being killed by opioid overdoses. — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Public Health Matters blog
Air Quality Awareness Week raises mindfulness about the importance of air quality issues. The USDA Forest Service commemorates the week and its 2018 theme “Air Quality Where You Are” with partners. This year, the Forest Service is featuring one area where air resource management is essential – wildland firefighting.
Recognizing the growing threat that wildfire smoke poses to the health and safety of the public and fire personnel, the Forest Service partnered with other federal, state and tribal agencies to implement a proactive and determined response. This included development of new modeling techniques to more accurately characterize emissions from wildfires. It also included creation of a new position in the fire organization – the Air Resource Advisor (ARA). — From the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) blog
It was hard to see it happen. We were watching a friend’s basketball game when the young boy fell down and began to bleed from a cut on his arm. The referee sent him out of the game and over to his coach who took out a bandage and slapped it on the wound without cleaning the cut. Calling a time-out, the coach put the boy back in the game.
My daughter and I looked at each other in disbelief. My son, her brother, Rory, had fallen playing basketball in 2012. The gym teacher had applied a bandage without cleaning the wound. Despite us bringing him to his pediatrician and hospital when he began to feel ill, Rory died from septic shock four days later. The source of the infection that ravaged his body is believed to be from the scrape on his arm. — From the CDC’s Safe Healthcare blog
As baseball season gets into full swing, many fans enjoy traditional ballpark favorites like peanuts. But not everyone can safely savor this popular treat. Peanuts induce an allergic reaction in millions of Americans.
Peanut allergy is a major public health concern, especially for children. “This is the most common cause of anaphylaxis in children and has become more prevalent in recent years,” says recently retired Agricultural Research Service (ARS) food technologist Si-Yin Chung. Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that has a quick onset. — From the USDA blog
This is Air Quality Awareness Week, a great time to learn how air quality affects your health. Topics for this week, which runs May 1-5, include:
- asthma and air quality
- air quality trends
- air quality around the world
- citizen science
Wildfires cause major air quality issues as they emit harmful gases and particles. Wildfire smoke can travel thousands of miles. The South Atlantic region, including the Carolinas, experiences the most wildfires, about three times the national average. South Carolina Forestry Commission firefighters respond to about 3,000 wildfires annually. In October 2016, a series of wildfires began in the Southern Appalachians, and continued into early December.
To protect your health during a wildfire stay indoors with windows closed, put air conditioners on “recirculate” mode, and pay attention to air quality reports via local media.
Did you know? Controlled fires, managed by skilled professionals, can greatly reduce the chance of a damaging wildfire.
Asthma and Air Quality
Asthma is a long-term condition affecting the lungs/respiratory system and making it difficult to breathe. In 2013, 400,000 South Carolinians — including 100,000 children — suffered from asthma. Air pollutants, such as particulate matter and ozone, can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Visit DHEC’s ozone forecast page or sign up to receive air quality alerts from Enviroflash.
Check out DHEC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking tool to find more information on how asthma and air quality affect South Carolinians. The EPA also has information available on Asthma and Outdoor Air Pollution.
Air Quality Trends
Historically, as sources of air pollution have increased — coal burning, factories, automobiles, power plants — air quality has declined. However, in the United States, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s, air quality has improved while the GDP, population, vehicle miles traveled and energy usage has increased. How is this possible? The Clean Air Act. Learn more about air quality trends across the US in this interactive trend report on Our Nation’s Air.
Air Quality Around the World
While air quality in the US has improved since the passage of the Clean Air Act, many cities and areas across the globe continue to struggle with air quality problems. Issues include wind-blown smoke and dust, vehicle emissions and industrial pollution. See the presentation Air Quality Around the World for examples of global air quality challenges and some novel strategies for addressing air pollution.
Citizen science refers to research collaborations between professional scientists and citizen volunteers. Citizen science projects can engage citizens in data collection and analysis in their communities. EPA’s “Village Green” project, for example, uses wind- and solar-powered park benches to collect minute-to-minute air measurements for ozone, particle pollution and weather conditions.
Lichens and mosses can be an indicator of air quality health. US federal agencies have been monitoring lichen health on federal lands since the early 2000s, and recently more citizens have been becoming involved in monitoring efforts. Programs like Michigan Tech’s “Mobile Environmental Citizen Science” and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “Citizen Science Central,” also show how citizen science can contribute.