Here are some simple, effective tips for protecting you and your family from the dangers of outdoor air pollution:
- Check daily air pollution forecasts in your area. The color-coded forecasts can let you know when the air is unhealthy in your community. Sources include local radio and TV weather reports, newspapers and online at airnow.gov.
- Avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high. When the air is bad, move your workout indoors, like walking in a shopping mall or using a gym. Limit the amount of time your child spends playing outdoors if the air quality is unhealthy. And even if the air quality forecasts are green, avoid exercising near high-traffic areas, because the vehicles on busy highways can create high pollution levels nearby.
- 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's easy tips for conserving energy at home.
- Encourage your child's school to reduce exposure to school bus emissions. To keep exhaust levels down, schools should not allow school buses to idle outside of their buildings. Many school systems are using the U.S. EPA's Clean School Bus Program to replace diesel buses with zero emissions buses.
- Walk, bike or carpool. Combine trips. Use buses, subways, light rail systems, commuter trains or other alternatives to driving your car.
- Don't burn wood or trash. Burning firewood and trash are among the major sources of particle pollution in many parts of the country.
- Use hand-powered or electric lawn care equipment rather than gasoline-powered. Old two-stroke engines like lawnmowers and leaf or snow blowers add pollution to the air.
- Be ready for disasters that impact air quality, like wildfires. Learn how to prepare for wildfire smoke, extreme heat and cold, storms and more with our resources.
- Protect your indoor air quality too. Learn how to make sure the air you breathe indoors is clean.
- Raise your voice. We can all take steps to reduce pollution and avoid exposure, but we need our policymakers at every level of government to prioritize clean air. Get involved by checking out our Healthy Air Campaign, where you can send messages to decision-makers and share your story.
Bottom line: Help yourself and everyone else breathe easier. Support national, state and local efforts to clean up sources of pollution. Your life and the life of someone you love may depend on it.
Page last updated: August 16, 2023