The San Francisco Bay Area issues a "Spare the Air" alert for Monday, July 25, because of ground-level ozone pollution concentrations.
The Spare the Air program was established in 1991 by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Apart from aiming to lower the levels of air pollution in the area, the program aims to provide advanced warnings to the public when the air quality is forecasted to be unhealthy.
Much of the air pollution is preventable. This is why the program's focus is on educating the general public and promoting behavioral or lifestyle changes that can keep unhealthy air quality at bay.
According to the program, below are examples of some of the changes people can do whenever an alert is issued:
- Walk or bike to work.
- Use a fuel-efficient vehicle.
- Take public transportation or carpool to work.
- Delay any activities that require the use of own transportation or run errands after dark.
- Have lunch at work to avoid driving in the middle of the day.
- Opt for an old-fashioned push lawn mower or an electric one.
- Use a broom or a rake instead of a leaf blower.
- Avoid burning charcoal. If you need to barbecue, use a gas grill.
- Store aerosol sprays inside cabinets and don't use them until air quality improves.
The Spare the Air program issues "AirAlerts," which are sent to the public through email a day before they are issued. These alerts encourage the public to adopt a healthier lifestyle or behavioral actions to help reduce unhealthy air quality. These alerts also help people with respiratory ailments or sensitivities to adjust accordingly or make advanced precautions. These people could include the ones suffering from asthma and emphysema.
The program also has an "Employer Program," a service that provides over 2,100 companies with educational tools they can use to teach their employees on how to prevent adding to the air pollution. The Employer Program also informs the companies' employees whenever an official alert is issued.
Lastly, the Spare the Air program has "community resource teams," a service wherein local residents can work together and come up with their own programs and initiatives that can help lower air pollution levels in their own communities.
Heart and lung disease patients or those with respiratory ailments such as emphysema and asthma are most susceptible to the health issues brought about by air pollution. Pregnant women, young children under 14, senior adults, outdoor workers and athletes who train outdoors are also very much at risk.
According to the Spare the Air program, high levels of air pollution can cause immediate health concerns such as serious respiratory and cardiovascular ailments, additional stress to the lungs and heart, compromised respiratory system cells, heightened sensitivity to particles and allergens, eye irritations, increased fatigue and even reduced infection resistance.
In worst case scenarios, long-term air pollution exposure can lead to the development of bronchitis, asthma, emphysema and even cancer.