6 Low-Cost Tips to Protect Yourself When There’s Poor Air Quality Outside

Poor air quality in your neighborhood can stem from natural events such as wildfires, hurricanes, or even floods. It can also be a result of human actions, such as the use of fossil fuels for our cars, factories, and homes. It’s important to take measures to reduce our carbon footprint. 

The reality is that your community might experience poor air quality at one time or another, and it’s important to take measures to protect yourself, your family, and your community. Below are several tips to protect yourself when there’s poor air quality outside.   

1. Avoid exercise near high-traffic areas

woman doing yoga

If you see the air quality in your neighborhood is poor and you are keen on doing some exercise, consider going to a green area to get your workout in! Even if the air quality in your neighborhood is considered safe, it’s best to go to a low-traffic area to do your workout. Vehicles on highways and in high-traffic areas tend to increase pollution levels.

Are you unsure about the air quality in your neighborhood? Just Air sends alerts to your phone when air quality is considered dangerous so that you can take the necessary measures to protect yourself. 

2. Use an N95 Mask

Two doctors wearing masks with pill dispenser between them

Five years ago, it would have been unlikely that you or your family members have an extra N95 mask in your home, but that isn’t the case today! Continuing to wear a mask could sound dreadful at the moment, but it’s proven to have health benefits when worn in areas with poor air quality. 

It’s recommended you wear an N95 mask when pollution levels are high outdoors. N95 masks do a great job of protecting you against small particles that come from vehicle exhaust, factories, and more. If a mask can protect you from ​​respiratory symptoms, cardiovascular disease, and even premature death, it’s certainly worth the risk!

3. Buy indoor plants

Two hands showing a small plant before its been planted

You can take special precautions outside to protect yourself from poor air quality, but there are also a couple of steps you can take to protect yourself inside as well. In fact, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher indoors than typical outdoor concentrations.” Whether your home has indoor or outdoor sources of pollutants, you can buy indoor plants to protect the air. Plants are natural air filters! 

Although plants can help the air quality inside your home, it’s also important to do routine checks of air vents and AC filters. It’s also important to keep carpets clean and to use cooking vents or open a window when cooking!

4. Use an air purifier

Air purifiers are great at refreshing stale air, but it’s important to note that air purifiers cannot remove all indoor pollutants. In order to clean the air in your indoor environment, you need some sort of filtration, and air purifiers are a great solution for that. Air purifiers reduce contaminants in an area and can reduce your risk of illness.

5. Close windows

A woman looking out a window at green grass and plants

Ventilation is very important for your health, so don’t close windows all the time and it’s not recommended you close yourself indoors for long periods of time. However, when you are certain that air quality is bad outdoors, it’s recommended you close your doors and windows. This can protect you from pollutants such as smog or smoke. This is especially important if you have at-risk groups in your home, such as the elderly or small children. 

6. Change your air filters

It’s important to change air filters because they catch more and more pollutants in your home, and eventually need to be replaced. Air filters might catch things like pet dander, mold, and dust. If you don’t change these filters periodically, it will become more and more difficult for air to travel through the filters. It can also make the filters use more energy if they aren’t replaced when necessary, which is a higher cost to you. It’s recommended that you change your air filter every 90 days, depending on the filter.

What's The Air Quality In My Neighborhood?

At JustAir, we know good air quality is essential to a healthy community, and we want to make this data and information open to the public. It's our mission to make all communities, but particularly underserved communities, aware of the risks of air pollution and provide them with resources they can trust to monitor the air they breathe. Contact us now to learn more about air quality monitoring systems, or download our app to see it in action in Grand Rapids, MI.

Darren Riley
July 28, 2021
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