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Why is air quality important?
How might it affect you?

The answer is as straightforward as this statement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Local air quality affects how you live and breathe.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) is a worldwide professional organization of more than 6,600 allergists, immunologists and related healthcare professionals. Its members understand that for people with certain sensitivities and health issues, outdoor air quality can be a big concern.

For example, asthma sufferers know that allergens such as pollen, mold and pet dander can trigger an attack. The Air Quality Index (or the AQI) can be a good resource for them — or anyone else — interested in understanding whether their local air quality conditions are good or unhealthy (and to what degree) on any given day.

As you can see from the chart below, the AQI measures air quality in a range of values from 0 to 500. It also breaks down each level of health concern and assigns a color to symbolize that level. As the EPA explains it: "the higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern."

AQI chart

People with asthma might be particularly interested in the AQI for Ozone Pollution because as the EPA notes, "ozone makes people more sensitive to allergens — the most common triggers for asthma attacks."

ozone chart

An Air Quality Index is calculated for each of the four types of pollutants (particles, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide) regulated by the Clean Air Act. Each index outlines AQI values and what actions affected groups should take to protect their health from that particular pollutant.

Did you know that air pollution can be inside your home, too? EPA studies have shown that it can be up to five times higher than what's outside, and is often elevated when outdoor particle levels are high. Oreck offers a full line of air purifers designed to help improve the air quality inside your home. Compare permanent filtration systems vs. HEPA filters and decide if air purifiers are right for your home!

This article is based on information in the Air Quality Index: A Guide to Air Quality and Your Health found at www.epa.gov as well as www.AAAAI.org.