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DNR asks Iowans to be air aware next week, celebrate Air Quality Awareness Week

As temperatures warm and Iowans head outdoors, they can usually count on good air quality. In fact, Iowa industries have significantly reduced six major air pollutants while growing the economy.

While there is much to celebrate during Air Quality Awareness Week, May 1 to 5, there are days when local air quality can pose health risks to sensitive populations. Just two weeks ago, April 14, air quality throughout Iowa declined slightly. Many Iowans saw hazy conditions as fires in Kansas’ Flint Hills blew smoke northeast over Iowa.

Hazy conditions may indicate small particles are polluting the air. If in doubt, Iowans can always consult the Air Quality Index, www.iowacleanair.gov, to learn about current and local conditions that might be of concern. As an example, yellow areas on the April 14 map reflected the smoke’s location.

The color-coded map summarizes ozone and particulate matter levels. In Iowa, the map is usually green for good air quality. While unhealthy air doesn’t happen often, it pays to check air quality before planning outdoor activities.

If pollution is high, the Air Quality Index will show orange areas, cautioning sensitive groups like the elderly, children, and those with heart or lung diseases to limit strenuous outdoor activities.

Athletes and those who love outdoor activities or work outdoors may also be affected by air pollutants, because the more active they are, the faster and deeper they breathe.

For information concerning current air pollutant levels (particulate matter, ozone, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide), check the Polk CountyLinn County and State Hygienic Laboratory websites:

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