US Air Quality Index updated after 23 years

The EPA's new Air Quality Index will provide the public with precautions that the agency recommends individuals take on days when air pollution poses a threat to health. The new Index will include warnings for people suffering from health conditions, including asthma.

The new Air Quality Index will be used by local weather forecasters. It reports on levels of five major air pollutants:

  • smog
  • soot
  • sulphur dioxide
  • carbon monoxide
  • nitrogen dioxide

In addition to the new Index, the EPA is making information regarding summer smog levels available on its website. At this stage, the Ozone Mapping Project shows animated maps of smog dispersion in real time and next-day forecasts for local air quality for 25 states. Within two years, the EPA expects all 50 states to be participating in the Ozone Mapping Project.

Launching the new Air Quality Index, Al Gore called on the US Congress to pass the Comprehensive Asthma Initiative. The $68 million strategy would:

  • implement school-based programmes to teach children with asthma how to manage their condition
  • invest in research to determine environmental causes and triggers of asthma and to develop strategies to reduce children’s exposure to asthma triggers
  • provide funds to states and other providers for the implementation of asthma management strategies that will reduce hospitalisations, A&E visits and deaths from asthma
  • fund a new public information campaign

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