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How Asthma Patients Can Get a Breath of Fresh Air

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Juanita Mora, M.D.

Volunteer and Clinic Partner, American Lung Association

Whether it comes from your car’s exhaust pipe, dirty smokestacks or a forest fire, air pollution can seriously harm your health.

Everyone should know how to protect themselves on bad air quality days, but it’s especially important for people with asthma, since air pollution can trigger asthma episodes, hospitalize sensitive people and negatively affect how kids’ lungs develop.

These are the best ways to protect yourself against air pollution in its many forms.

Know before you go

Ever hear your local weather forecaster say that tomorrow will be a “code orange” day for air pollution? The Air Quality Index, or AQI, is the system that warns the public when air pollution reaches dangerous levels.

If the day’s level is yellow or worse (orange, red, purple or maroon), avoid outdoor exercise, stay away from high-traffic areas and stay indoors as much as possible. If you have asthma, make sure to keep your quick-relief asthma medicine with you at all times in case the air pollution triggers respiratory symptoms.

Do your part

In addition to ways to limit exposure to pollution, I like to share the following tips with my patients to let them know how they can help improve outdoor air quality:

  • Instead of driving, share a ride, take public transportation, ride a bike or walk.
  • Avoid mowing your lawn until the late evening or until the air quality improves.
  • Don’t use paints, solvents or varnishes that produce fumes.
  • If barbecuing, use an electric starter instead of charcoal lighter fluid.

Be the change

You can advocate for cleaner air by sharing your story about why healthy air matters to you with the American Lung Association to help our nation’s leaders understand why healthy air is so important. You can also reach out to your local representatives and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect the Clean Air Act.

While on the Lung Association’s website, make sure to check out the “State of the Air” report to see how your area’s air quality compares to other places’.

Juanita Mora, M.D., Volunteer and Clinic Partner, American Lung Association, [email protected]

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