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  • 9 Actions to Take When an Air Quality Alert Arises

    How to prepare your home for days when outdoor air isn’t ideal.

    Take steps to help control your air quality.

    You may already know the finer points of the Air Quality Index (AQI). But it never hurts to learn more about how to take care of yourself, your loved ones and your environment from the worst effects of poor air quality.

    • What causes poor air quality?

      Both manmade and natural sources contribute to air pollution. The sources of these pollutants range from motor vehicles to agriculture to burning materials, such as coal and wood*. And they don’t just wreak havoc on the environment. While polluted air can affect everyone, children and those with lung and pre-existing heart conditions are more vulnerable. Breathing polluted air can increase people’s risk of asthma attacks, heart disease and respiratory infections, among other health problems**.

      Two common types of pollution are ground-level ozone pollution and fine particle pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that ground-level ozone is created when “pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plans and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight”***.

      Fine particle pollution, however, comes directly from pollution sources and gets created through reactions between airborne sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and ammonia, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Weather conditions that can add insult to injury include high humidity, high pressure and low wind speed****.

    • What can I do?

      When an air quality alert is issued, you know to stay indoors, but what else should you be thinking about to tackle the larger pollution issue? Here are a few ways the MPCA recommends controlling your air quality and reduce your footprint. Bonus points if you turn these tips into lifelong habits!

      In your home:

      • Control humidity.Use a dehumidifier, exhaust fan and proper ventilation to help keep indoor humidity levels between 30 and 60 percent*****.
      • Seal up the solvents. Make sure you’ve properly contained all cleaners, paints and other chemicals to prevent their evaporation.
      • Save electricity. Set your thermostat a smidge higher in the summer and lower in the winter.
      • Do an equipment and appliance audit. Thinking of replacing a unit? Look for the Energy Star label when making your new purchase****.
      • Change your air filter regularly. For optimal performance, we recommend changing your Filtrete™ Filter at least every three months.

      On the road:

      • Commute smarter. Establish a carpool or find out what public transportation options are available near you.
      • Keep tires full. Check that your tires are adequately inflated to help increase fuel efficiency. You can typically find the recommended air pressure on the driver’s side doorjamb or in the owner’s manual.
      • Fuel up the right way. Remember to tighten your gas cap all the way, and plan to always refuel after 8 p.m. during the summer****.