Lung Association Warns of Increased Pollution as the Temperature Rises in the Northeast

Warmer weather means High Ozone Days are approaching

(May 30, 2013)

As the communities in the Northeast prepare for warmer temperatures this season, the American Lung Association urges residents across the Northeast to be aware of the increased risk of ground-level ozone and take health precautions when levels are high. One valuable resource is our free State of the Air® smartphone application, which monitors current levels of ozone and particle pollution and pushes out notifications when either pollutant reaches unhealthy levels in your area.

“Air pollution threatens the health of millions in the Northeast alone. With these increased temperatures comes the increased threat of hazardous levels of ozone pollution,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We are happy to be able to provide this innovative tool so those with lung disease, and without, can effectively monitor their local air quality and take action to limit their exposure to dangerous levels of air pollution.”

Despite continued improvements in air quality, unhealthy levels of air pollution still exist in communities across the country.  According to the Lung Association’s State of the Air 2013 report, more than 8.6 million people in the Northeast live in counties with dangerous levels of ozone or particle pollution, the two most widespread air pollutants.

The State of the Air app enables users to enter their zip code or use the geo-locator function to get current air quality conditions and the next-day air quality forecast.  The app tracks levels of both ozone and particle pollution, and pushes out alerts if local air quality is code orange- unhealthy for sensitive groups - or worse.  Depending on the severity of the day’s air pollution, the app will provide vital health recommendations – advising that outdoor activities should be rescheduled or that people who work outdoors should limit extended or heavy exertion.


"High levels of air pollution can make people sick and send people to the hospital,” said Dr. E Neil Schachter, Professor of Medicine Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.  “That’s why during the upcoming summer months all of us, especially people with lung disease, should pay particular attention to ozone levels and follow the recommendations when air quality alerts are issued.  Being diligent and taking precaution can save a person a trip to the emergency room.”

“Vehicle emissions are a major source of air pollution and this year, EPA has an opportunity to set stricter standards on tailpipe emissions and to mandate cleaner burning gasoline,” said Jeff Seyler, CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “It is important for people to let EPA know that these standards, which are equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road, are vital to protecting public health. Introducing these new parameters would one cost about a penny per gallon.”

Besides being aware of air pollution levels there are steps that the public can take to protect that air we all share:

  • Support our Healthy Air Agenda by visiting www.fightingforair.org .Tell EPA we need cleaner gasoline and vehicle standards to fight life-threatening tailpipe pollution and tighter ozone and carbon pollution standards to clean up the air we breathe. Urge your members of Congress to protect the Clean Air Act, which has been in effect for more than 40 years and has saved lives and improved the quality of life for millions of Americans.
  • Take steps to clean up the air in your community and to protect your family: drive less; walk, bike, carpool or take transit. Don’t burn wood or trash. Make sure your local school system uses clean school buses. Use less electricity. Don’t’ exercise on high pollution days and never exercise near busy freeways.
  • Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LungNE and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LungNE for more information on lung health.

Heat and sunlight mixed with the pollution from tailpipes, smokestacks and other sources create ozone. Ozone is the most widespread air pollutant and can cause health problems like wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and even premature death.  Exposure to ozone pollution has been likened to “a sunburn on the lungs.”

Whether the air is code green, “good,” or code red, “unhealthy,” the app allows users to share their local air quality via email, Facebook or Twitter.  The app also provides users with the opportunity to sign up to receive information from the American Lung Association on topics of particular interest to them. Users can also contact their members of Congress through the app’s “speak up” function and voice their support for the Clean Air Act.

The air quality information provided is based on data made available to the public by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The American Lung Association app is available for Apple in the App Store and for Android in Google Play or at www.lung.org/stateoftheairapp.