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  • Reducing Heart Health Effects from Air Pollution

    Feb 25, 2016 | Read More News
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    Male Heart PatientAir pollution affects not only our lungs and people with respiratory disease, but studies show air pollution can also trigger heart attacks, strokes and worsen heart failure in those at risk. February is National Heart Month and Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) wants you to know how to protect yourself and your loved ones from health problems associated with air pollution.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one in three Americans has heart or blood vessel disease and is at higher risk from air pollution. Below are some tips (adapted from the EPA’s “Healthy Heart Toolkit”) to be “Heart Healthy” and breathe easier.

    Air quality can be poor any time of the year, and can be especially problematic near busy roads when there is smoke in the air, when it is windy and during the summer when the weather is calm and clear.

    Know where to go to get air quality information:
    • Look for the “Current Air Quality” link in “Air” section on PDEQ's home page;
    • Find information on Tucson air quality here. Look at the top of the page in the “Local Air Quality Conditions” box; find “Arizona”; go to that page and scroll down to Tucson to see the Current Air Quality Index;
    • Sign up here to receive air quality advisories via email;
    • Follow PDEQ on Twitter for daily air quality updates.
    Understand what the Air Quality Index (AQI) is and when air pollution levels may affect your health:
    • AQI is a color scale based on monitoring data that tells you how clean or polluted the air is.
    • AQI provides an advisory health message depending on pollution levels. 
    Air Quality IndexTake steps to protect yourself, or loved ones, if air pollution is high:
    • Postpone outdoor activity until the air is cleaner;
    • Avoid exercising near busy roads; 
    • Reduce level of activity (for example, walk instead of jog); and
    • Exercise inside instead of outside.
    Steps you and loved ones can take to reduce air pollution:
    • Drive less – condense errands into one trip, share rides, take transit;
    • Limit idling your vehicle, and pick one day a week as a “no-drive” day;
    • Maintain vehicles and keep tires properly inflated;
    • Reduce energy use – use cold water for laundry and line dry, if possible; 
    • Opt for a fan when you can – or if air conditioning is necessary, set for a higher temperature and use a fan to supplement the air conditioning;
    • Use surge protectors for multiple appliances and chargers and turn them off when not in use;
    • Use a rake or broom instead of electric or gasoline-powered tools;
    • Conserve water – grow native and low-water use plants and trees;
    • Recycle, reuse, re-purpose, and buy “vintage”; and
    • Eat local (and nearby), buy locally produced products and from farmers markets.
    If you are at higher risk for health issues, knowing air pollution levels and modifying your exercise routine, if necessary, can help protect your health. Work with your health care provider to develop a plan that works for your individual needs, and do your share for healthier air.

    Click here for more information on the EPA’s Healthy Heart research.