Tips on staying healthy when air quality is low


ST. LOUIS – Hot temperatures, light winds, sunshine, and emissions are a recipe for high ozone concentrations in the air we breathe. With the air quality index expected to be orange, some people could be at risk for health complications.

“It’s particularly important for children, the elderly, people who work outdoors, anybody with lung disease. All of those people need to be extra cautious,” said Susannah Fuchs, director for clean air with the American Lung Association.

Those in this sensitive group need to watch the air quality forecast and keep in mind some tips to stay healthy.

“One is don’t do prolonged exertion outdoors,” Fuchs said. “If you’re going to exercise, you know sometimes people go have a walk or a run during lunch, you may want to not do that on a yellow or orange day. You could maybe exercise earlier in the day when the ozone pollution levels haven’t gotten high yet. Anyone with lung disease needs to be really cautious on poor air quality days.”

If you are spending time outdoors when the air quality is low, you may notice some difficulty breathing. Fuchs says that it can exacerbate your asthma and maybe make you have an episode.

Ozone concentrations increase through the afternoon and peak in the early evening hours.

You need to be especially careful with children.

“Particularly children you know who don’t tend to stay still. They tend to move around a lot and breathe more air per pound of body weight,” said Fuchs. “You know if you can do your playing outdoors in the earlier hours of the day and try to plan things that are indoors for the latter parts of the day that would be preferable.”

To find out more about air pollution and what it can do to your lungs, visit For yearly in-depth analyses of air pollution data by county, visit

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