Using the Polk County Air Quality Index for Heart Health

The Polk County Air Quality (AQI) can help you protect your heart. Check it out /airquality/

“How many times have you heard a forecast that said, ‘Air pollution levels are forecasted to be unhealthy for sensitive groups”, but didn’t know what it meant if you have a heart condition?, said Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director.

Sensitive groups for air pollutants include people with heart disease, older adults, and children. When exposed to air pollution people with heart disease and older adults are more likely to visit emergency rooms, be admitted to hospitals or even die. Exposure to air pollution may cause people with heart disease to experience chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Air pollution has also been associated with cardiac arrhythmias and heart attacks.  Major sources of these particles include motor vehicles, haze, smoke, residential wood burning, agricultural burning, some industrial processes, and other combustion process.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your outdoor air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health. “Our Air Quality Index can give people with heart health issues some valuable information so they don’t put themselves at unnecessary risk”, said Jeremy Becker, Polk County Public Works Department Air Quality Manager.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.; the risk of heart attacks may begin as early as the mid-40s for men and mid-50s for women, but heart disease is preventable and controllable.

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