Experts share what you need to know about air quality risks in Augusta

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 5:45 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - As summer approaches, the weather is heating up.

It’s not just record temperatures we’ll be tracking this year. We’re also climbing the charts when it comes to air pollution.

In a ‘State of the Air’ report released last month, the Garden City comes in at No. 25 for year-round particle pollution trends.

The first thing experts recommend is to check the air quality index every day. The easiest way to check is on the weather app on your phone. Search it on Google. If it reads below 30, it’s good, but above 50, they say stay indoors. With an index between 30 and 40, use your own judgment but limit outdoor time. Exposure to these particles could have serious impacts on your health.

“You’re looking at increased asthma attacks, long-term possibilities for heart disease, or other cardiovascular damage could lead to premature death. Even for pregnant individuals could lead to other sorts of reproductive or developmental harm,” said Ashley Lyerly, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association.

The goal of the state of the air report is to encourage us to be aware of our air quality and take necessary precautions, especially for those at risk with asthma, COPD, children, pregnant women, and elderly people.

If there’s a day with a bad air quality index, experts have a few recommendations.

“In the summer, don’t mow your lawn at peak times during the day or fill your car full of gas at peak days and be conscious of the energy that you consume,” said Lyerly.

The report looks at two of the most widespread air pollutants, fine particles, and ozone. It says our pollution is mainly from industrial and power plant emissions, burning fossil fuels from cars, construction even pollen and humidity. It explains while daily particle pollution levels aren’t that high, being here on a long-term basis can be more damaging to your health.

“It certainly is very concerning being in the top 25 list. What that means is that the everyday citizen that’s living in the Augusta metropolitan area is being exposed to particle pollution,” she said.

One of our local pulmonologists says if you have concerns, they’re here to help

Dr. Shaheen Islam, division chief of Augusta Pulmonary Care, AU said: “If it’s severe, can’t breathe, if you’re breathing more than 10-12 times per minute, you’re having difficulty getting air then definitely call your doctor, or go to the urgent care or the emergency room.”

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