Understanding the Impact of NJ Air Quality on Health in New Jersey
This week, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an air quality alert on your phone or computer. Across the Northeast, especially in South Jersey, we are experiencing a rise in the air quality index due to forest fires in Canada. Yet, the term ‘NJ Air Quality’ might be somewhat nebulous for many of us. We often overlook the importance of these alerts and the impact of air quality on our health. So, how exactly does air quality affect our bodies? Who are the ones most at risk from poor air quality? How should one respond when an air quality alert is issued? This article aims to explain what you need to know about NJ Air Quality and how to protect yourself from its potentially harmful effects.
Decoding Unhealthy NJ Air Quality Alerts
In 1999, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced the Air Quality Index (AQI) to monitor and report daily air pollution levels. The Clean Air Act of 1970 identified five major pollutants measured by the AQI:
- Ground-level ozone – Produced by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, and other pollution sources via sunlight-induced chemical reactions.
- Particle pollution or particulate matter – Emissions from vehicle and industrial fossil fuel combustion, cigarette smoke, and burning organic matter, such as wildfires.
- Carbon monoxide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is evaluated on a continuum from 0 to 500. As per AirNow.gov, an escalation in AQI values corresponds to an increase in air pollution levels and health concerns. In contrast, lower AQI values suggest more satisfactory air quality, indicating reduced health risks. This information is crucial for NJ Air Quality, alerting residents about conditions that may impact their health. Color-coded smartphone alerts now make AQI reporting easily accessible.
Air Quality and Its Effects on the Body
Research continues to uncover new insights on how air pollution, including NJ Air Quality, impacts our health, listing a series of both short-term and long-term effects.
The short-term effects of poor air quality include:
- Irritation to the nose, throat, eyes, and skin
However, long-term effects of poor air quality, like NJ Air Quality during periods of high pollution, can persist for months or years, or even become a lifelong struggle. These include:
- Heart disease
- Lung cancer
- Respiratory diseases such as emphysema
- Damage to people’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs
“When the index hits 101 or above, the outdoor air may not be an active threat to many people but older adults and children are at increased risk,” adds Dr. Adibe. “People with heart and lung disease may also be at greater risk.”
Staying Safe During Periods of Poor NJ Air Quality
Poor air quality can persist for extended periods, depending on the severity of the pollution or the type of event causing it. When a code red is issued or for at-risk populations if a code orange/yellow is issued, there are measures that can be
taken to stay safe.
- Stay indoors as much as possible, keeping windows and doors closed
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activities like exercise or mowing the lawn
- Run your air conditioning continuously rather than using an automatic setting
- Avoid frying food or other cooking activities that might produce additional smoke
- Avoid smoking cigarettes
If you’re concerned about the health risks associated with poor NJ Air Quality, it’s advisable to consult your healthcare provider.
Air Quality: More Than Just an Alert
The importance of understanding NJ Air Quality and its effects cannot be stressed enough. Poor air quality is not just an inconvenience, but a serious health hazard. Especially for vulnerable groups, understanding the AQI and knowing how to respond to its alerts can make a significant difference in health outcomes.
Joining Hands for Better NJ Air Quality
While individual actions can help mitigate the effects of poor air quality, collective action is required to address the issue at its source. Policy changes, stricter emission regulations, and widespread awareness are crucial steps towards improving NJ Air Quality. By understanding the importance of air quality and making informed choices, we can contribute to a healthier, cleaner environment for ourselves and future generations.