SMOGWeather forecasters and government agencies use the Air Quality Index (AQI) to calculate how polluted the air is in different parts of the country. This data helps us understand the trends in health conditions that arise and its correlation to pollution. The AQI also warns people with compromised respiratory systems when it may not be safe to be outside.

Currently, Worcester, MA is experiencing level orange air quality, which, according to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, means the air is currently unhealthy for “sensitive groups” to go outside.

There are numerous factors that impact the air quality. Of course, the 21st century dialogue concerning air quality has primarily centered around CO2 emissions, however, on a day-to-day basis, fluctuations in air quality are predicated more on natural factors. While the dominating reasons for air pollution are a two-pronged combination of Ozone quality and particulate matter, humidity and dry air affect the air quality most on a given day.

Ground ozone quality is impacted most by pollutants such as car exhaust and industrial fumes, which in keeping with modern environmental concerns, are essentially CO2 emissions. Particulate matter, on the other hand, while also including CO2 emissions, are pollutants including wood smoke, ash and soot. The burning of fossil fuels is another contributor for increased particulate matter.

Here are some health tips on days with higher amounts of particulate matter and poor ground ozone quality:

Stay Indoors or Refrain From Any Strenuous Outdoor Activities

High humidity affects more than just the quality of air outside. Because dust mite populations, along with other bacteria spike in warm, humid environments, it’s important to make sure that if you are staked out indoors, that the room is well-ventilated and air conditioned.

Stay Hydrated

Humidity tends to make people sluggish, which ultimately weakens the body’s physical constitution. This makes it essential to stay hydrated on days with poor air quality. If you don’t stay well hydrated, serious health concerns may arise, such as dehydration, which may lead to fainting. The importance of staying hydrated is only elevated for people with pre-existing health conditions.

Be Extra Careful If You Have Respiratory Problems

For persons with respiratory issues, such as lung cancer or Crohn’s Disease, it’s important to exercise extreme caution on days with poor air quality. This holds true for the elderly and infants as well, as their bodies don’t have the same fortifications healthy people’s bodies do.