Spring Brings Ozone Season Along with Allergies

Spring in Kentuckiana brings so much fun: busy ball diamonds, outdoor festivals, bike rides and graduation ceremonies. Unfortunately, the season can also bring stuffy noses, itchy eyes and misery if you have allergies.

To be clear, at KAIRE we deal with air quality and air pollution, and we don’t report or forecast pollen levels.

However, we are aware that warm spring temperatures and sunny days can help raise levels of ozone pollution, which paired with high pollen, can be a double whammy for allergy sufferers. Both pollution and pollen are possible triggers for asthma attacks.

There may even be a connection—plants and trees stressed from urban heat and air pollution send out more pollen. A cooler Louisville, with less of the urban heat island effect, would relieve some of that pressure and reduce the formation of ground level ozone.

Air Quality Alerts are called at very conservative levels to protect the most vulnerable. An alert is triggered when forecasters believe pollutants like ozone or particles could cross into the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range.

Remember to check the Air Quality Index as well as the pollen count. Follow KAIRE on Facebook or Twitter to receive Air Quality Alerts in your social media feeds.

Take Action on an Air Quality Alert Day

If an Air Quality Alert is forecast, what actions should you take? First, there’s no need to panic. Anyone who has a respiratory disease, such as asthma or COPD, or heart disease, as well as active adults and children, should take precautions and reduce their exertion while outdoors. That could mean moving exercise indoors or scaling back from a run to a jog or walk.

You may see more Air Quality Alerts this summer, as our National Air Quality Standards have gotten tighter. How can you help keep the air cleaner?

  • Reduce emissions by cutting back on driving and idling.
  • Combine your errands into one trip.
  • Bring your lunch with you, or order in as a group to keep driving or idling at drive-throughs to a minimum.
  • Check on your neighbors who have breathing problems.
  • Walk or bike to your destination, or share a ride with a friend.
  • Let someone else do the driving by taking TARC.
  • Take a break from mowing with gas powered equipment.

As you can see, there are many ways to help out on an Air Quality Alert day, and if we all made small changes like these, together we can make a big difference in the quality of our air.

Breathe Easy When You Travel

Breathe easy and stay aware of air quality when you travel with these easy tips.

Although anyone, including active adults, can experience the effects of poor air quality, those in the sensitive groups for air pollution, such as the elderly, children and anyone with heart or lung disease should keep air quality in mind, even when on vacation.

AirNow is a great source for air quality information, even if you are staying home. When you travel, stay up to date on air quality during your journey and at your destination.

Pack your inhaler or other medications in your carry on in case you are separated from your luggage.

If pollution levels are high at your destination, scale back your exertion accordingly.

Be aware of the symptoms of exposure to poor air quality, including itchy eyes, nose and throat, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, chest pain, and upper respiratory issues.

KAIRE wishes you a safe journey and easy breathing, whether you “staycation” in Kentuckiana or travel around the globe.

Go Green, Save Green

It’s no secret that gas-powered lawn equipment is bad for the air. It’s old technology, like driving a car without a catalytic converter, producing dirty, unfiltered emissions. In fact, one hour of mowing with a typical gas-powered lawnmower produces the same amount of smog-forming pollution as driving your car for 200 miles—enough to go from Louisville to Nashville. These emissions contribute significantly to ground-level air pollution and are especially harmful to sensitive groups such as children and the elderly.

The Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District’s Lawn Care for Cleaner Air Program encourages Louisville Metro residents to reduce these harmful lawn-related air emissions by using much cleaner electric and human-powered lawn equipment.

Find out more about the rebates at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/lawn-care-cleaner-air.

Help Your Car When It’s Cold

If you don’t need to go out in extremely cold temperatures, the best advice is to not go out at all. However, if you must drive, keep a few cold weather tips in mind.

Cold weather puts stress on the moving parts of your car, so it’s important to keep up vehicle maintenance. Regular oil changes will help.

Check your tires for proper inflation. Lower temperatures mean the pressure in them has likely dropped. Don’t forget to check the spare tire as well.

Replace your wiper blades if they are worn and check to make sure you have plenty of de-icing windshield wiper fluid.

The best way to warm up your vehicle is to drive it. And never, ever, leave a vehicle idling in an enclosed area or garage.

Keep your gas tank at least half full to reduce condensation and to make sure you won’t get stranded by running out of gas.

Carry equipment to help get you out of a jam: an ice scraper, a flashlight, a fully charged cell phone and some salt or kitty litter to get you “un-stuck” in snow.

Pack some extra gear in the car in case you get stranded: a blanket, gloves, a hat, a snack and some water.