If you occasionally experience coughing, sneezing, dry skin, headaches and shortness of breath, check your air quality forecast.

Poor air quality, sometimes caused by air pollution, can make the air you breathe very unhealthy.

What You Need To Know

  • Sensitive groups of people can get seriously ill from unhealthy air 

  • Air pollution can even trigger heart attacks

  • Pay attention to Air Quality Alerts and daily forecasts for unhealthy air

Major health concerns

Poor air quality can lead to more than just coughing and sneezing. If you suffer from asthma, lung disease, bronchitis, or any other respiratory issues, unhealthy air is especially harmful.

Heart disease is also a huge issue and air pollution can trigger heart attacks, irregular heart rhythms and stroke.

According to AirNow, a website that combines federal and local agencies that monitor air quality, air pollution can affect people with heart failure and reduce the heart's ability to pump blood normally.

If a person has asthma, two key air pollutants can make them feel worse or trigger an attack.

Ozone and particle pollution can make a person with asthma or lung disease more likely to have symptoms. Ozone found in smog, and air particle pollution found in haze, smoke and dust trigger the most attacks. 

When is it bad?

During hot summer days, ozone is the worse especially in the afternoons and early evenings. Particle pollution is typically bad all year round and when the weather is calm. In calm weather, air pollution builds and particles can increase.

According to AirNow, particle levels will increase near busy roads when there is smoke in the air and around factories or during rush hour traffic.


Here are a few tips that can help you stay safe when there's unhealthy air: 

• Find the air quality forecast for your area using the Spectrum app or website for alerts or you can visit airnow.gov

• Use the Air Quality Index to plan your daily activities if you suffer from respiratory issues (see the chart below)

• Pay attention to your symptoms when you are physically active

Remain proactive and aware of your air quality. When you find yourself in unhealthy air, take precautions. 

If you see an Air Quality Alert for your area, prepare your day accordingly and try not to remain outdoors for long periods of time. 

(EPA Photo/Airnow.gov)
(EPA Photo/Airnow.gov)