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Air Quality Awareness Week: Clean Air for All 

Air Quality Awareness Week is held every first week of May across the United States. It aims to raise awareness about air quality and its impact on human health and the environment. Ultimately, it assembles individuals, communities, and governments to reduce air pollution through various activities. Read on to learn more.

Featured in: May - Awareness Months, Days, & Observances.

Why Air Quality Awareness Week Matters

tall grass
Photo by visnu deva on Unsplash.

Air pollution is a global concern and a public health issue, which causes heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections. Moreover, indoor air quality needs attention as this is where we spend most of our time.

On a larger scale, air pollution damages crops, forests, and water bodies and contributes to acid rain and the erosion of the ozone layer.

We must increase public awareness and participation to improve the air we breathe and achieve environmental justice. 

How to Help Maintain Good Air Quality

riding a bike
Photo by Dana Marin (Amsterdamian) on Unsplash.
  • Host or join a Virtual Community Health Fair or other public events that feature information on air quality to raise awareness about air pollution.
  • Try carpooling to reduce the number of cars on the road and cause less air pollution.
  • Plant a tree to help absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, and filter harmful pollutants from the air.
  • Swap out old appliances for energy-efficient ones to reduce emissions from power plants.
  • Turn off lights and electronics when not needed (which also helps save electricity at home).
  • Leave the car at home and take public transport. Otherwise, ride a bike or even walk to work.
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle to reduce waste and the harmful gases produced when we incinerate trash or leave it to rot in landfills.
  • Regularly maintain your vehicles to help reduce emissions. Ensure your tires are properly inflated, and you use the correct grade of motor oil.

Data and Statistics

grass field
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash.

According to the World Health Organization, 91% of the world's population breathes air1 that doesn't meet safety standards. Alarmingly, various studies state that this causes 3.3 to 8.7 million premature deaths annually.

We can also breathe polluted air indoors, which most of us spend more time in. Filled with smoke and mildew, it has two to five times more air pollutants than the outdoors. 

According to the latest State of the Air report2, almost 36% of the population, or around 119.6 million Americans, live in areas with unhealthy ground-level ozone or particle pollution levels.

Brief Timeline of Air Quality Awareness Week

1987:

The Clean Air Act Amendments mark a turning point in environmental history and set the stage for public discourse on air quality issues.

2004:

Four years of relentless campaigning by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its partners led to the official recognition of the first Air Quality Awareness Week.

1924:

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) was established to preserve wildlife and habitats by advancing zoos and public aquariums.

2006:

The EPA launches the AirNow program, providing the public with real-time access to air quality information.

2010:

The EPA uses social media to raise air quality awareness and provide information on outdoor air pollution to the digital generation.

2018:

Air Quality Awareness Week encourages people to understand the air quality in their immediate surroundings.

2020:

Air Quality Awareness Week educates people about the impact of wildfire smoke on air quality, reflecting the climate change crisis.

2024:

The annual theme encourages people to learn about air quality and incorporate air quality knowledge into their daily lives. The EPA also partners with the National Park Service, the National Weather Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other government agencies.

AQAW Themes

May 6 – 10, 2024Knowing Your Air
May 1 – 5, 2023Working Together for Clean Air.
May 2 – 6, 2022Be Air Aware & Prepared!
May 3 – 7, 2021Healthy Air – Important. For Everyone!
May 4 – May 8, 2020Better Air, Better Health!

Conclusion

Air Quality Awareness Week aims to increase public understanding of the importance of air quality on people’s well-being and environmental health. With seven days full of activities, it encourages us to adopt practices that safeguard our air, our health, and the future of our planet. 

We can make a difference by supporting green energy initiatives, among other things. Let us commit to our planet and ourselves. Let us use this week to ignite lasting changes.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Air Quality Awareness Week?

This annual event, held every first week of May, aims to increase awareness about the importance of air quality and the impact of air pollution on health and the environment.

2. Why is air quality essential?

Poor air quality can cause cardiovascular, respiratory, and other diseases. It also impacts the environment, including plant and animal life.

3. How can I improve air quality?

You can start by reducing your carbon footprint, using public transportation or carpooling, reducing energy consumption, and supporting policies that promote clean air and sustainable practices.

4. What are the common causes of air pollution?

These causes include vehicle emissions, industrial activities, agriculture, and household activities such as burning wood or trash.

5. How can I monitor air quality in my area?

You can check local air quality reports and use environmental agencies' air quality index (AQI) tools. Additionally, you can install indoor air quality monitors in your home for real-time monitoring.

1

Roser, M. (2021). Data review: how many people die from air pollution? Our World In Data

2

American Lung Association. (2023). State of the Air.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

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