Air Pollution

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Last week, we took a little time off from posting. As you may have noticed, Miele is completely renaming their entire line of HEPA vacuum cleaners, and it's been created a lot of new work for us. But it's Tuesday, and we're back. I wanted to start with a roundup of some of the recent stories touching on the world of asthma, allergies, and environmental control.

Reaching back the furthest is the announcement earlier this month that there was a proposed class action lawsuit filed against Lumber Liquidators. While traditional home improvement is necessarily something you'll see us writing about, this story was of particular note. Potential Problems with Cheap Laminate FlooringFor many with severe allergies or asthma, a recommendation your allergist or physician will often recommend is to replace your carpet with smooth flooring. This can be anything from linoleum or hardwoods, to tile or laminate. None of these will trap and retain allergens and irritants like carpet does. This story broke on 60 Minutes, and focused on laminate flooring and levels of formaldehyde in the product. As we've often mentioned, formaldehyde is common but powerful volatile organic compound (VOC) linked to a wide variety of conditions. Formaldehyde found in glues, adhesives, new furniture, and carpet can often aggravate respiratory conditions like allergies or asthma and severely impact those with chemical sensitivities. More generally, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and the result of long term exposure to any carcinogen is almost always the same - cancer.

Court Battles Ahead for Lumber LiquidatorsAt this point, there is plenty to be said on both sides. Some within the flooring industry attack the test or testing methods, which is performed by the California Air Resource Board (CARB), the same folks who test home air purifiers to ensure they do not produce ozone. Others have lambasted the company, Lumber Liquidators, as well as the manufacturers in China. While blame and claims fly, and a court battle is likely to drag on for years, there are a couple things to take from this story.

First, while all laminate does contain some level of this VOC, most have minimal levels that are within limits set by the CARB. CARB has some of the most rigorous testing in the world, with regard to emissions, ozone, and other potential indoor pollutants, and while some VOCs Are Common But Constant or Strong Exposure Can Create a Whole Host of Health Problemsmay take issue with how this particular test is performed, it's worth noting that the same testing of products sold by other home improvement stores revealed no issues with elevated levels of formaldehyde. Think of this like paint. Most interior paints contain some level of VOCs, but there are some that have lower levels than others.

Second, remember the source. While products of all types, made in a variety of countries, can and do have problems (think of the string of auto recalls in the last several years), in this instance it was only laminate made in China that so dismally failed CARB tests.

I'm not saying every product that comes out of China is bad or dangerous, but by this point, we should have had enough reason to be somewhat leery (drywall in 2001, toxic pet treats in 2007, melamine in milk in 2008, heavy metals found in toys' paint in 2011). Do a little extra research. The internet has a wealth of information, and in a short amount of time you can often double check a company's claim about its product. I'd also advise you to consider the source of your information. "Jimbo's Awesome Blog" might not necessarily be as credible as a piece found on a major news site or National Institute of Health page.

The second story I wanted to mention was likely missed by many, but it involves the drug Breo® Ellipta® by GlaxoKlineSmith. Commonly used to treat those with COPD, there has been scrutiny on the drug over its potential use by adolescents and children or for any condition other than COPD (which is comprised of emphysema and chronic bronchitis). Breo® Ellipta® - Adults with COPD OnlyAn FDA advisory panel overwhelmingly voted against the use of Breo® Ellipta® in children 12-17. For now, the drug will remain a COPD drug and NOT an asthma medication.

This isn't the first time an issue like this has arisen. Breo® is a two part drug which contains a corticosteroid as well as a long-acting beta-agonist (LABA). LABAs have and continue to be scrutinized for their links to increased risk of death in those who have asthma and use this class of medication. A quick glance at the official Breo® website should give you a pretty clear indicator of this as the warning that this drug is NOT to be used for asthma appears repeatedly on their site.

Air Pollution Continues to Plague to City of LightsLastly, today was not the day to be a Parisian resident with an even numbered license plate, particularly a joyride was on the daily to-do list. As has happened in Paris before, extremely high levels of air pollution has made the city the smoggiest on the planet, if only briefly dethroning Beijing and/or New Delhi. While a view of the skyline may appear rather miserable today, it likely won't last long.

As a final note, April is almost here, and in addition to the dogwoods being in full bloom this weekend, our most dreaded spring allergens are beginning to emerge from their winter slumber. Nicer weather shepherding in weeks of sneezing, congestion, and sinus pressure. Thanks nature!

To see the entire 60 Minutes piece about flooring.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, June 24, 2014
It is definitely that time of year again. You know, the time of year when getting into your car feels like you've just stepped into a blast furnace; the time of year when, you know it's at least 105% relative humidity out because of the deep regret you have for not putting deodorant on every inch of your body; the time of year when sunscreen just seems to melt, along with all motivation to do anything outdoors. Though it is somewhat early, it certainly feels like THAT time of year again.

So as the mercury does less creeping and more racing to the top of the thermometer, this is also a good time to point out something else that has been popping up in recent days - air quality warnings. Summer has just officially arrived, and it seemed to coincide neatly with consecutive 90° days here in Atlanta as well as code orange Air Quality Index readings.

While much of the country has shrugged off the spring allergy season, it is now officially time to start keeping an eye on air quality. During the summer months, there is one key driver of poor air quality - ground level ozone. But what does ground level ozone do, who does it affect, and why do we only see much of it during the summer?

'Fun Times with Ground Level Ozone' - Said No One... Ever.As temperatures rise, heat combines with pollutants from emissions like nitrogen dioxide and VOCs (generally from vehicles, power plants, industrial pollutants and others) to create a powerful lung irritant, ground level ozone. For those with respiratory conditions, ozone can cause a range of reactions from shortness of breath and coughing, to wheezing and general discomfort. Those who are affected most by ozone are those with respiratory conditions, like severe asthma, COPD or lung disease, but children and the elderly often feels the effects more pointedly too. Even for those who are healthy, higher levels of ozone can cause problems, particularly when working or exercising outdoors. Decreased lung function and inflammation of the airways are two of the first symptoms that may be noticeable even in healthy adults.

Last year, many parts of the country were fortunate, with regard to ground level ozone. While heat is critical in the formation of ozone, wet conditions subdued the production of ozone. Precipitation and wind can lower levels by stunting the formation of ozone or dispersing and lowering concentrations, respectively. As also a bit of good news, the trend over the last three decades has been a slow but steady decline in ozone. This decline is welcomed but in coming years could be offset some by rising overall temperatures.

Your local weather station (particularly if you live in an urban area) will often mention air quality warnings on bad days. Masks to help filter some of the pollutants, and a dual media (carbon & particle filter) mask, when properly fitted, can reduce exposure. The best advice is to try to accomplish your outdoor activities in the morning or evening, when temperatures have cooled and air quality has improved.

Perhaps it's just Atlanta that is sweltering? I suppose it got the nickname, "Hotlanta" for a reason, right? With consecutive days in the 90's on what were the final days of "spring," it's hard not to think the rest of the country is dealing with the same sauna-like conditions that we affectionately call "weather." Unfortunately, a quick look at the national weather reveals that this isn't exactly the case, but to those of you who are still avoiding the Duo of Doom (heat and ground level ozone) I can definitively say, "It's coming..."


For more information on the effects of ground level ozone or to check the Air Quality Index for you location, visit

For a better explanation of the Air Quality Index Chart.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Since 2012, Vogmasks have offered a more stylish, comfortable way to block allergens, dust and air pollution. The original mask, the Classic Microfiber Vogmask, is lightweight, offers three layer filtration and comes in a variety of colors. After just a few short years, these masks have not only gained a great deal of popularity and improved, but we are now happy to introduce you to some of the new members of the Vogmask lineup!

N99 VogmaskIn addition to the Classic Vogmasks, there are now CV N99 masks. Originally, each Vogmask offered roughly N95 filtration (95% filtration of particles), but the drawback was the "roughly" part. Since then, the design of the mask has been improved, so much so that this latest version of the Vogmask has been tested to offer N99 filtration (99% filtration of particles). This is as close to a HEPA mask as you can get, without actually having a HEPA mask. In addition to the N99 filtration, the new CV Vogmasks have 4-ply filtration, with one of those being a thin layer of active carbon. So in addition to better particle filtration, the N99 CV can also tackle nuisance levels odors, fragrance and smoke. To make breathing easier each also comes with an exhale valve built into the right side. This keeps exhaled air, moisture and warmth moving out of the mask and away from your face.

New Allergy Mask - Vogmask MondrianSimilar to the Classic Vogmask, you will also find a new Microfiber version. Nearly identical to the Classic in every way, the significant difference is that the new Microfiber, like the CV, offers N99 filtration. Lastly, there is the Organic Cotton Vogmask. With tightly woven, certified organic cotton, this mask offers the lowest level of particle filtration but is well suited for someone looking for a more natural face mask without plastics or other materials that can cause reactions for those with MCS.

Each mask is hand washable, lightweight, reusable and latex-free. Unlike other allergy masks, the range of styles and patterns gives you the ability to choose the mask that not only meets your filtration needs but provides the style and look you want. So if Spring allergy season is getting you down, an effective Vogmask might be just what you need!

To compare Vogmask features.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, October 18, 2013
World Health Organization  (WHO) Labels Air Pollution a CarcinogenA recent announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified "air pollution" as a carcinogen. The agency within the WHO that specializes in cancer research, the IARC, released these findings yesterday. For many who follow and keep up with the steady stream of studies that are released annually, this announcement may seem a bit anticlimactic, but it does put a proverbial bow around what amounts to decades of research and thousands of studies. There are two reasons why I consider this announcement significant, but before I get into those, let's take a look what exactly we're talking about.

Here at Achoo!, we touch on such research several times throughout the year, particularly with regard to how air pollutants (both indoor and outdoor) cause problems for people with respiratory conditions. Many point towards a causal relationship between things like asthma and vehicle exhaust. This publication, though, is based upon the review of epidemiological studies that include millions of people spanning five continents. Particularly telling are many of the studies coming out of rapidly industrializing nations like China and other parts of Asia. This part of the world has seen an industrialized revolution similar to that which occurred during the early 1800's and again during the middle of the 19th century. With this boom in manufacturing, nations like China have struggled to keep up with emissions and toll they take on the population.

These findings focused less on the specific elements that make up air pollution, but looked more broadly at the pollutant. The components of air pollution can vary, depending on the location, but as a whole, air pollution is fluid and has effects that can cover very wide areas. The largest two broad components of air pollution stem from particulate matter and "transportation-related emissions." And while some air pollution is naturally occurring, much of it stems from vehicle emissions, power generation, and industrial emissions.

October Breast Cancer Awareness MonthIn my opinion, the significance of this announcement is two fold. First, it actually focuses on a cause of cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, typically a time when we see a flood of "pink" merchandise and marketing, all designed to raise awareness of breast cancer. From boxes of saltines at the grocery store to the helmets of the Oregon Ducks college football team this weekend, this iconic color raises awareness of breast cancer. Local organizations hold events, races, even free mammograms, all to raise money and awareness of this issue, yet by in large much of focus on cancer research, particularly in the U.S., seems to be on finding a "cure." A thought that I always have whenever I see anything related to a "cure for cancer" is, a cure, though important, wouldn't be as necessary if you could find, then reduce or eliminate the cause.

Smoking Causes Cancer?  Do Tell!Secondly, this study highlights a major environmental factor in the cause. We are all aware of certain things that cause cancer, like smoking or using tobacco, etc., but many of these types of things are causes that we expose ourselves too knowingly. There's little doubt that smoking or using smokeless tobacco can directly lead to things like lung, throat or mouth cancer, but air pollution is different. Mainly in that, you can't quit breathing!

The goal with this announcement, as stated by IARC Director Christopher Wild is

“There are effective ways to reduce air pollution and, given the scale of the exposure affecting people worldwide, this report should send a strong signal to the international community to take action without further delay.”

Sadly, to date, economic interests have largely trumped measures that could curb or reduce pollutants in areas where people are most effected.

To read the official WHO press release or to download the full IARC publication.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, June 17, 2013
Air Quality IndexStarting in spring each year, you might notice a mention of the "air quality index" on the local news. Typically during the spring months, this index is influenced by the level of pollen in the air, but as spring dials up the heat into summer, the index tends to focus on ground level ozone. For people dealing with allergies, asthma or more severe respiratory conditions, the air quality index (AQI) can be a quick and useful way to help manage your outdoor activities for the day. But what does the index measure and how does it actually help?

The AQI is a chart, ranging from 0-500 that measures major pollutants and particles in the air, including ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Measured and reported by the EPA, the AQI provides a guide that can help those with respiratory problems better manage their daily outdoor activities. With six categories, the scale ranges from Good to Hazardous. The first two categories, Good and Moderate, Poor Air Quality - Time to Move?do not cause problems for most people, but for sensitive groups, like those with asthma, COPD, emphysema, heart or lung disease, the next two categories can begin to cause problems. If the air quality falls into the last two categories, Very Unhealthy and Hazardous, you should consider staying indoors as much as possible or consulting a local real estate agent.

While the AQI can give you clues as to when it will be best to be outdoors, this measure will vary greatly depending on your location. And though it is often the case that poor air quality tends to center around metro areas (since there is typically more industry, more cars, and higher levels of pollution in general), things like topography and geography can play major roles in how and where air pollution concentrates. Mountain ranges, hills, and valleys can act as walls and funnels for air pollution, allowing it to move, collect and settle in places that you would expect to have much better air quality. Geographical features like these can also effect the duration of poor air quality, causing it to stick around and not allowing it to dissipate as quickly. This is one reason why air quality is so poor in Beijing. Images from this city sometimes show a literal fog of pollution hanging over the city, and while air quality there is generally worse than any location in the U.S., the same types of geographic features that trap air pollution around Beijing can also be found throughout the U.S.

During the warmer months, air quality tends to worsen. Heat changes simple air pollution, so while the same levels of exhaust and carbon dioxide during the winter months may register as Moderate, during the summer they may appear as Unhealthy on the AQI. Add summer heat to industrial and exhaust and you have the recipe for ground level ozone - a powerful lung irritant that can aggravate asthma, COPD and other respiratory conditions.

So what does this all mean? Poor summer air quality isn't going anywhere anytime soon, so the AQI can be a handy tool to help you schedule your daily tasks with as little impact as possible. Morning tends to be the best time to get your outdoor tasks finished, and some things should simply be put off until rain, wind or decreasing temperatures improve the AQI score. Masks with activated carbon can also be helpful if you must spend time outdoors when the air quality if poor. This type of mixed filtration media mask not only targets particulate but also help to traps chemical pollutants like smoke and chemical pollutants from vehicles. Remember your meds. For a variety of reasons, people will often short dose themselves or simply skip medications that can help. Avoid this on days where the air quality is bad and you have to spend time outside. If you must spend time outdoors, take frequent breaks and get inside to cooler temperatures. Finally, drink plenty of water. Heat exacerbates many conditions, and during the summer, heat exhaustion and dehydration unnecessarily cause and worsen problems for many.

Indoors, you can keep help to improve air quality by using a HEPA air purifier which can remove not only particulate but chemicals, odors and help to keep dust levels down. Replacing your HVAC filter regularly is always a good idea. This filter is often your first line of defense in removing air pollutants in your home. Lastly, when the air quality is poor outside, keep the doors and windows closed (though most do anyway when using AC).

For more information on the EPA's Air Quality Index or to check the air quality near you.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, July 23, 2012
Image by Simon GoldbergThough I know the Olympics are coming up very quickly, thoughts about it have largely been tucked away in the back of my mind. From an allergy/asthma perspective, there are certainly athletes competing who are dealing with asthma, like US swimmer Pete Vanderkaay, but with the games being hosted in London, there have not been the red flags going up like there were four years ago in Beijing. Is London's air quality really that good?

In the months leading up the 2008 games in Beijing, there was a lot of well placed concern over the air quality that Olympic athletes would have to deal with. Concern over the air quality in Beijing is well placed as it has some of the most consistently poor air quality of any city on this planet. The Chinese did recognize this problem and attempted to improve air quality in a few ways, namely they cut emissions in the time leading up to the games. One effort involved cutting the number of vehicles that were operating in the city in half. Fast forward four years, and there's been nary a peep about air pollution in London.

London has a troubling past when it comes to air pollution. Everyone's heard the term "London Fog," but in this instance, I'm not referring to a soup, cocktail or nightclub. In 1952 thousands of Londoners died from the effects of "the great smog of '52". Air pollution settled over the city in a thick smog, and following this event air pollution laws went in to effect to prevent this from happening again.

I'm not suggesting that a toxic cloud of smog is going to amass over London and wreak havoc, but critics are quick to point out that London is not in compliance with EU air quality guidelines and that levels of nitrogen dioxide are frequently high. Additionally, studies attribute roughly 4000 premature deaths each year in London due to air pollution. While not occurring from a single event like the Great Smog, the death toll from exposure to consist pollution annually equals that of the Great Smog - 4000.

For most people this will equate to a moderate warning that you will find in a lot of U.S. cities during the summer months. However, for Olympic athletes, these small reductions in air quality can translate into the difference between 1st and 2nd.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, June 28, 2012
So maybe the title is a bit deceptive since there will be no mention of the famous movie by the same title that starred Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis, except for this one. What I am referring to, however, is the intense heat that is EZ-Baking the middle of the US and slowly marching east. From Denver to DC, Atlanta to Chicago, temperatures surpassing the century mark have set records in over a dozen cities this week. While a lot of us really enjoy the sun and being outdoors, +100° temps are a time when some caution should be used. Here's just a quick list of things to keep in mind while you worry about if you used enough deodorant today.
  • Avoid the Heat, Avoid Ozone - Record temperatures are almost synonymous with ground level ozone and air quality warnings. A look at the national map reveals a lot of code orange dots scattered throughout the eastern part of the country. Heat mixes with emissions to create a stew of pollutants that can adversely effect everyone but specifically the elderly, children and anyone suffering from a heart condition or respiratory issue. This means asthmatics and those with Protect Yourself From Extreme Heat COPD, among others, should take precautions to limit to their time outdoors to early mornings when ozone is at its lowest levels. If you must go out, use a mask that features carbon or charcoal in the filter.

  • Sunscreen + Water = Win! - If you are going to enjoy the sunshine, make sure to use a little sunscreen and drink plenty of water. With almost no chance of rain, not a cloud to be found and temperatures so high, it's important to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays. Vanicream offers a healthier sunscreen is healthier alternative to traditional sun blockers that can be laden with harmful chemicals and fragrance. Water is very important in replacing what you lose through perspiring and preventing dehydration. It's a great way to avoid looking like a sun-dried raisin!

  • Put Off Yard Work - Much to the chagrin of your significant other, you officially have a legitimate reason for putting this off. If there is work to be done in the yard, aim to complete it by 9-11am, at the latest. Depending on local conditions, there may be no dew on the ground even earlier than this, but typically dew "burns off" by the midmorning hours. You can either wait a few days until the extreme temperatures subside or use the early hours to get your outdoor chores completed (and earn brownie points for not putting it off!).

  • Take a Break - If you are outside for very long or doing physical activity, take a break! Find some shade, a cool drink and give you body some time to recover. Extreme sun and heat saps your strength, so short periods of rest can help recharge your batteries. And don't forget about eating. When the temperatures are warm and I am outside, I can be guilty of this. Heavier foods are not going to be helpful, light snacks and fruit provide the energy you need to keep going.

  • Don't Forget the Pets - Have outdoors pets? Bring them inside. If they're anything like my dog, after a hot day at work, he loves to just flop on the cool tile in our downstairs and soak up the cool. At the very least, keep an eye on outdoor pets and ensure they have plenty of fresh water and shade. Alone inside a parked car with the windows cracked? Unless you have the vehicle running, and your AC cranked, it's like a blast furnace in your car or truck. In this case, it is actually better if they are outdoors, or best still, leave them home.

  • Take a Moment for Tomatoes - If you have a garden or just a few tomato plants and landscaping like I do, the heat can wilt and damage them in fairly short order. Vulnerable, potted plants should be moved to areas where exposure to sunlight is less than normal. Water them in the early hours or after the sun has gone down to reduce the amount that is lost by evaporation. Some plants, even when not exposed to direct sunlight, will wilt simply due to the extremely high temperatures.

  • Your Excuse To.... - On a lighter note, use the heat as an excuse to stay indoors in the air conditioning. If this means spending time with the family or visiting/checking on an elderly relative, perfect! If it just means you staying inside and catching a movie you've been wanting to see, that's fine too!
This list isn't comprehensive, but it does give you a few things to keep in mind as these high temperatures steam roll across the midwest, south and east coast. If you are feeling dizzy or lightheaded at any point, stop what you are doing and rest for a few minutes. If conditions like this do no subside quickly, please visit your local hospital, clinic or health care provider. Heat stroke and dehydration, though common during times of high heat, are completely preventable and usually, easily treated. Stay safe!

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by Kevin on Thursday, June 28, 2012
Reduce Exposure to EmissionsWhile the political debate over whether emissions regulations are too onerous on manufacturers, evidence linking increased exposure to emissions and asthma and lung damage continues to pile up. From decreased lung development to increased rates of asthma, studies published in the last decade demonstrate a link between emissions and respiratory troubles with some regularity. So what can you do to reduce expsoure, particularly in areas where traffic congestion is at its worst?

Face masks have become a popular choice for those spending time outdoors in urban areas. Specific brands, like Respro, have built most of their business around serving the filtration needs of those concerned with air pollution, while working or playing outdoors. Activated carbon, combined with particle filter media collect emissions particles as well as pollen and dust, to protect the lungs from the effects of repeated exposure.

We have seen strong interest in compact and portable purifiers, like the Roomaid and others. They're typically inexpensive, lightweight and very compact. While the Roomaid can sit in your car, other models are also small enough to take with you when you travel. Even though compact air purifiers rarely offer as comprehensive filtration as full size models, they do reduce harmful air pollutants no matter where you go.

Though studies reaching back nearly a decade show clear links between emissions exposure and asthma rates, the debate over vehicle emissions and regulation is one that will not be going away soon. Public policy is rarely shaped by health considerations alone, but those living near traffic congestion or suffering from asthma cannot afford to wait for legislatures to pick up the banner of cleaner air. By limiting your time outdoors, avoiding time outside when traffic pollution is at it's worst (during the rush hours), and taking steps to filter the air that you breathe in your car or home, you make huge strides in reducing your exposure to emissions pollution.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, June 12, 2012
If you happened to see a snippet from the evening news, you may have come across a piece about a thick cloud of yellowish smog in the Chinese city of Wuhan. While the cause of the dense cloud is up for debate, it highlights a couple important points about air pollution. First, that unlike your yard, air pollution doesn't stay put. Secondly, while we all know that plants can act as nature's version of an air purifier, one thing they have trouble filtering is ground level ozone.

For many of us, whether it's a camping trip to a national park or weekend at the beach, summer means time outdoors. Though the thought of enjoying the fresh air of the great outdoors is appealing, it's not always the case. Even forests and parks, far from the pollution of cities, can be effected by ground level ozone and smog.

Air pollution doesn't adhere to prescribed boundaries, so while cities can be the focal point of ground level ozone and smog, surrounding areas can and often will be affected. Regional weather patterns can carry VOCs and carbon monoxide emitted by factories and cities throughout areas where these pollutants are not produced. These pollutants can persist for weeks, and on warm, sunny days, create ground level ozone that effects the people and plants living in that region.

Many people have plants in the home. I keep a hideous looking spider plant in my living room (though less for air cleaning and more for sentimental value). Plants have the uncanny ability to help clean up messes, and by absorbing sunlight and carbon dioxide they play a vital role in producing oxygen and moisture (remember high school biology). Ground level ozone can have a severe impact on plants.

Stippling and Flecking on Plants from OzoneOnce absorbed by plants, ozone disrupts the process of photosynthesis and can actually damage the leaves where this process occurs. This can have a variety of effects including lower crop yields on farms, damage to plants and a reduced ability to break down pollutants in the air. Though it gets little media exposure, ground level ozone and lower crop yields are enough of a concern that farmers in the U.S. are working on developing ozone resistant strains of the soybean plant to combat this.

To reduce ozone, activated charcoal or carbon has been shown to be effective. So for those with asthma or respiratory problems, masks with some layer of activated charcoal can help reduce exposure, no matter where you are. So regardless of whether you are on vacation or just jogging around the block, sensitive groups should take a moment to check the air quality index before heading out.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, May 25, 2012
What are your Memorial Day plans? Watch a parade? Go see an air show? Cook out with friends and family? Go canoeing down a local river? <---My plans! This weekend is bound to be full of festivities, food, commemorating, and for most of us, plenty of time outdoors. While the spring pollen season has pretty much drawn to a close, the rising temperatures are starting to trigger smog alerts and air quality warnings in metro areas across the South. Today we are going to see a code orange which means the air quality will be slightly worse than moderate with the main pollutants being fine particles and ground level ozone.

Ground level ozone is formed when the pollution from factories and vehicles mixes with high temperatures, and while there is not much you can do about it, the best advice is to avoid it. So if you're planning some jogging or other strenuous activity, try to time it around the early morning and evening hours.

For most of us, this may be a nuisance or something we just ignore this weekend, but with temperatures reaching into the 90's, asthmatics and others with respiratory problems should take note. So regardless of what your Memorial Day weekend plans are, stay safe and have fun!

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