You don’t need us to tell you it’s hot out there, LOU, just step outside and let your glasses fog up.
However, something you might not have noticed between yesterday’s heat-related power outages downtown + the sweat dripping down your forehead, are the city’s Air Quality Alerts.
Today, we’re unpacking these alerts, how to track them, and what you can do to help.
Air Quality Alerts are issued based on the Air Quality Index (AQI), which tells us the cleanliness of outdoor air. While there are five major air pollutants, the primary two Metro’s Air Pollution Control District (APCD) — which has been around since 1945 — are concerned with are ground-level ozone and particle pollution.
Let’s break those down:
- Ground-level ozone (O3) — Not emitted directly in the air, but is created when other pollutants, such as vehicle + industry emissions, mix with heat and sunlight, which makes the pollutant more prevalent in the summer months
- Particulate matter (PM10 + PM 2.5) — Composed of super small, solid particles and droplets suspended in the air + comes from a variety of components like metals, soil, dust, and organic chemicals
The APCD monitors and predicts these pollutants via the ten air stations across the Greater Louisville area. Interact with the stations on this map.
AQI is metered from zero-500 and uses six color variations — from green to dark red — to denote how hazardous the air is for our health — from aggravating existing diseases like asthma to triggering heart attacks.
For example, yesterday, Derby City had a yellow rating of 79 meaning it was a good day to be outside for just about everyone except those considered to be part of sensitive populations (those with lung or heart disease, asthma + children and older adults).
So what can you do to help? Reduce unnecessary engine idling, consider switching to electric-powered lawn equipment, and read Kentuckiana Air Education’s clean air tips.