Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30 through May 6 is Air Quality Awareness Week

Off the top of your head, can you name the main contributors to air pollution in Washington state?

Not surprisingly, the answers are motor vehicles, smoke from outdoor burning (including wildfires) and wood smoke from home-heating devices.

Laws have been passed at the state and federal levels in attempts to regulate and decrease the amount of pollution in the air we breathe. However, legislation isn’t the only tool necessary to get the word out about the importance of protecting our air quality. What other tools can we use, you might find yourself wondering.

The answer to that question is: Education. This week, take the opportunity to educate yourself and your community about the importance of healthy air.

Did you know:
  • Vehicle emissions and smoke from outdoor burning both add small, fine particles to our air which are easily inhaled deeply into our lungs. These particles can lead to heart and breathing problems, and in some cases even death.
          Children, asthma sufferers and those aged 65 and up are the
          most at risk.
  • Smoke from burning yard waste contains some of the same chemicals found in cigarette smoke. Just like smoking cigarettes, breathing in the tiny, toxic particles can lead to asthma, emphysema, bronchitis and lung cancer.
          Composting is a great alternative to burning and can be used
          in so many productive, healthy ways. For more information
          on what to do with yard waste, click here.
  • Fine particles polluting our air contribute to approximately 1,100 deaths and about $190M in health care costs annually in Washington, according to a 2009 Ecology analysis.

To read more about Air Quality Awareness Week, click here. Visit the Department of Ecology's website to track the air quality in your area!

To read this post in Spanish, click here.