Written by Hayley Belton, Communications Specialist

Listen, clearing the air can be tough. But these conversations must be had. Don’t worry, that’s what I’m here for! We’re going to keep this simple. The matter at hand: Air Quality.

Why should you care about the air?

Jordin Sparks said it best, “tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air (no air).” Well…you can’t, which is why we should all care. If the air quality is poor, then it can affect your health. This is especially true if you’re a part of one or more of these sensitive groups:

gif of adult using inhaler
  • Young children
  • Older adults
  • People with pre-existing conditions (asthma or heart and lung diseases)
  • Adults that are active outdoors

You might be saying, “I’m not a part of those groups” …blah blah blah. If the air quality gets really bad (we hope not), then it will affect everyone.

You know what the Air Quality Index is, right?

The Air Quality Index (AQI). That color-coded scale that tells you how you can protect your health based on the air quality index value. Yeah, that thing. There are five monitoring stations located throughout Mecklenburg County that measure the amount of pollution in our outdoor air daily. That data helps to determine the air quality forecast.

The AQI goes from 0-500 – the higher the value, the greater the health concern. If the air quality forecast is green or yellow (<100) – you’re free to go frolic outside.

air quality station

Code orange, usually during the summer months, may have some negative health impacts on those groups I mentioned before. Red and purple days are typically rare. The last code red in Mecklenburg County was in 2016. But if it gets to those colors, everyone (remember what I said?) should reduce or avoid long activities outside.

If you’re like me and love taking “hot girl walks” (or whatever you want to call working out without saying it), check the current air quality index before you head out next time. If it’s a code orange day, maybe shorten your walk and drink plenty of water. We even made it easy for you, you can subscribe to Air Quality forecast emails or download the AirNow app and get the information you need right on your phone.

Let’s Keep it Going

There are so many simple things you can do to improve our air, whether you’re acting on your own or for your company. I’m not asking you to save the world, but we can at least try. On road mobile sources (like cars, motorcycles, trucks, and buses) cause 60% of air pollution in Mecklenburg County.

Here’s what you can do to help reduce that:

  1. Plan and combine short trips – you’re saving gas money too!
  2. Work from home. If you can’t, carpool, bike, walk, or ride public transit to work.
  3. Pack your lunch (and snacks) rather than driving to lunch.
  4. Reduce and stop vehicle idling – yes, you sitting in the carpool lane at your kid’s school and you waiting to order in the drive-thru line.
  5. Keep vehicles in good working condition.

If you’d like to make some big changes for yourself or your business, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Our Air Quality department is here to help.