Protect Yourself

10 Tips to Protect Yourself from Unhealthy Air

The American Lung Association encourages everyone to get involved in the fight for cleaner, healthier air.  Here are some simple, effective tips for protecting you and your family from the dangers of air pollution:

  1. Check daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts in your area. Sources include local radio and TV weather reports, newspapers and online at www.epa.gov/airnow/.
  2. Use less energy in your home.  Generating electricity and other sources of energy creates air pollution.  By reducing energy use, you can help improve air quality, curb greenhouse gas emissions, encourage energy independence and save money!  Check out the Environmental Protection Agency's easy tips for conserving energy at home.
  3. Avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high. When the air is bad, walk indoors in a shopping mall or gym or use an exercise machine. Always avoid exercising near high-traffic areas. Limit the amount of time your child spends playing outdoors if the air quality is unhealthy.
  4. Encourage your child's school to reduce school bus emissions. Most buses use heavily polluting diesel engines. Newer fuels and engines are cleaner. To keep exhaust levels down, schools should not allow school buses to idle outside of their buildings.  Many school systems are using the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean School Bus Campaign to clean up these dirty emissions.
  5. Walk, bike or carpool. Combine trips. Use buses, subways, light rail systems, commuter trains or other alternatives to driving your car.
  6. Fill up your gas tank after dark. Gasoline emissions evaporate as you fill up your gas tank. These emissions contribute to the formation of ozone, a component of smog. Fill up after dark to keep the sun from turning those gases into air pollution.
  7. Don't burn wood or trash. Burning firewood and trash are among the major sources of particle pollution (soot) in many parts of the country. If you must use a fireplace or stove for heat, convert woodstoves to natural gas, which produces far fewer emissions.
  8. Use hand-powered or electric lawn care equipment rather than gasoline-powered. Two-stroke engines like lawnmowers and leaf or snow blowers often have no pollution control devices. They can pollute the air even more than cars.
  9. Don't allow anyone to smoke indoors and support measures to make all public places smokefree.  Dangerous particles from cigarette smoke can remain in the air long after a cigarette has been extinguished. 
  10. Get involved.  Review your community's air pollution plans and support state and local efforts to clean up the air. Contact your local American Lung Association at www.lung.org or 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872). Find out what is happening in your area and how to get involved.