What you should know about particulate matter
Protect yourself and your family
EPA's Air Quality Index, or AQI, is a tool to help you quickly learn when air pollution is likely to reach unhealthy levels. Local TV stations, radio programs, and newspapers carry these air quality forecasts to tell you when particle levels are likely to be unhealthy. You can use the AQI to plan your daily activities to reduce exposure to particle pollution.
When particle pollution levels are high, you can
- reduce the amount of time you spend outside;
- do easier outdoor activities, such as walking instead of running or using a riding lawn mower instead of a push mower; and
- exercise away from roads and highways. Particle pollution is usually worse near these areas.
If you have one of the following diseases, you may experience some effects from particle pollution:
- You may not be able to breathe as deeply or strongly as you usually do.
- You may cough more, have chest pain, wheeze, feel like you can't catch your breath, or be tired more than usual.
- Coming in contact with particle pollution can cause serious problems in a short period of time, such as a heart attack without any warning signs.
- Symptoms, including chest pain or tightness, fast heartbeat, feeling out of breath, and feeling tired more than usual, may be signs of a serious problem. If you have any of these signs, follow your doctor's advice and contact your doctor if the symptoms last longer than usual or worsen.
Follow your asthma management plan when particle levels are high.