Illinois EnviroFlash Delivers Air Quality Alerts via
Email, Text or Twitter
CHICAGO – The Illinois EPA and Illinois Partners for
Clean Air have teamed up to promote National Air
Quality Awareness Week in Illinois. The week of April
30 – May 3 has been designated to help educate the
public about air quality concerns and encourage
residents to regularly check their local air quality
While Air Quality Awareness Week is a national
effort, state and local programs provide Illinois
residents with information and choices specific to
our state and our communities. Illinois residents are
encouraged to become “aware about air” during the
week, and each day will focus on a different outdoor
air quality topic:
• Monday: Air Quality – Important at Every Age
• Tuesday: Air Quality Matters Everywhere
• Wednesday: Get Outside! And Use the Air Quality
• Thursday: Help Your Neighbors – Increase Air
Quality Awareness Where You Live
• Friday: Do Your Part – Reduce Your Contribution to
Throughout the year, there are days when air quality
could pose potential health risks such as asthma and
lung problems due to weather conditions, high ozone
levels, or other conditions. Air Quality Awareness
Week aims to educate people across Illinois about the
causes of outdoor air pollution, what people can do
to protect their health when air quality is poor, and
how they can reduce pollution by making simple
choices in their daily lives.
“Air Quality Awareness Week will educate Illinois
residents on the importance of improving our air
quality while providing them with information they
need to make informed decisions to protect their
health,” said Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett.
Director Bonnett encourages Illinois residents to
sign-up for Illinois EnviroFlash, a free service
through a partnership with U.S. EPA that allows
anyone to receive air quality forecasts for the
following day via email, text message or Twitter.
Users can customize the service to notify them when
certain air quality forecasts are expected. Illinois
EnviroFlash also provides “Real Time” and Air
Pollution Action Day alerts, when air pollution
levels reach unhealthy levels.
Air pollution levels often increase between early May
and late September. Air pollutants, specifically
ozone and particulate matter, can affect a person’s
respiratory and pulmonary system. Groups most
susceptible to the risks include children (especially
those with asthma), older adults, people with
respiratory or heart diseases and people who are
Some ways to protect your health include planning
activities with higher exertion during cooler times
of the day, reducing exertion or limiting the time of
exposure. In addition, individuals are encouraged to
follow tips to reduce contributions to air pollution.
• Take public transit, carpool, walk or bike.
• When driving, try to plan trips for the evening
(when sunlight is not as strong), consolidate
destinations and avoid idling.
• Turn off and unplug electronics when not in use.
• Install and properly set a programmable thermostat.
• Purchase ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and
• Switch to energy efficient lighting.
• Purchase environmentally friendly household
products such as natural cleaners.
• Use a charcoal chimney instead of lighter fluid
• Do not burn leaves and other yard waste.
• Do not use gas-powered equipment or fire pits on
days when air pollution is elevated.
“Being aware of elevated air quality is a great first
step,” said Director Bonnett. “Our ultimate goal is
to have more residents use the information and take
action to reduce contributions to air pollution.”
Statewide air quality data is available on the
Illinois EPA website at
information on air quality is also available through
the Illinois Partners for Clean Air website at
AIR QUALITY AWARENESS WEEK: APRIL 29-MAY 3, 2013
(National topics provided by U.S. EPA with local
MONDAY: Air Quality – Important at Every Age
Two of the most common pollutants in the U.S. --
ozone, sometimes called smog, and particle pollution
-- pose health risks for hundreds of thousands of
Americans each year. Are you one of them? Many of us
are. If you’re very young, if you’re a senior citizen
-- or if you’re somewhere in between – you may be at
increased risk from ozone or particle pollution
That’s bad news. The good news? You can do something
You can take steps to reduce your pollution exposure.
Use the Air Quality Index (AQI) to adjust your
outdoor activities so you can and reduce the amount
of pollution you breathe in while still getting
exercise. It’s not difficult – and your health is
For more information, visit www.airnow.gov and
TUESDAY: Air Quality Matters Everywhere
Many people think of air pollution as a big-city
problem, but that’s not always the case. Ozone and
particle pollution can be problems in rural areas –
in both the summer and winter.
Ozone forming pollution can travel long distances on
the wind before reacting in the sun to form ozone.
Ozone itself also can travel long distances, so even
rural areas can have high ozone levels. And while
ozone is a warm-weather pollutant in most areas,
wintertime ozone episodes have been increasing in
recent years in some western states.
Fine particle pollution can come from sources such as
fires, tailpipes, or woodstove chimneys. But it also
forms when emission from power plants, highway
vehicle or industrial activities chemically react in
the atmosphere. Depending on where you live,
particles can be a problem at any time of year! Keep
track of air quality where you live: www.airnow.gov
WEDNESDAY: Get Outside! And Use the Air Quality
Think you have to stay inside on a Code Orange AQI
day in your area? You may be surprised to learn that
isn’t usually the case. Think of the AQI like a
weather forecast – and use it to plan your outdoor
Finding the AQI is easy. It’s available on the Web,
on many local TV weather forecasts, and through free
e-mail tools and apps. Once you have the forecast for
your local area, check the health recommendations to
see how to reduce the amount of pollution you breathe
AQI recommendations apply to other outdoor
activities, too – including activities like working
in the garden! So on a poor air quality day, think
about doing less-strenuous chores, like weeding
instead of moving around heavy mulch.
Most of the time, changes like these will help you
reduce your exposure. Find your AQI forecast:
• On AirNow: http://www.airnow.gov
• Download the free AirNow apps for iPhone or Android
• Sign up for Illinois EnviroFlash, a free service
that sends air quality info to your e-mail or mobile
phone e-mail address.
THURSDAY: Help Your Neighbors – Increase Air Quality
Awareness Where You Live
The Illinois Air Quality Flag Program improves
awareness of outdoor air quality – and helps teachers
and coaches ensure that children get plenty of
physical activity, while protecting their health when
air quality is poor. Children (including teenagers)
are at greater risk from air pollution because their
lungs are still developing, they are more likely to
be active outdoors, and they breathe more air per
pound of body weight than adults. They’re also more
likely to have asthma.
Participating is simple. Each day, school officials
raise a flag that corresponds to the color of that
day’s Air Quality Index forecast. Then, using the
program’s activity guidelines, schools can modify
outdoor activities or move them inside if needed. For
more information, visit
Illinois Partners for Clean Air will provide Air Quality Flag Program Kits
will be provided to Chicago area schools at no cost.
Schools outside of the Chicago metropolitan area can
purchase the five color-coded flags for a nominal
cost from numerous flag vendors.
Add Air Quality Info to Your Website: download the
AirNow widget! This free widget lets you provide
current air quality information on your own webpage.
Get it at http://bit.ly/airwdjt
FRIDAY: Do Your Part – Reduce Your Contribution to
Nearly every day, each of us contributes a little to
air pollution – but we don’t always realize it. Take
a few minutes today to think about what you do that
contributes to air pollution. Then come up with a
plan to make some changes.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
• Think about that light switch – and the thermostat.
Your electric bill isn’t the only reason conserving
energy is a good idea. Power plants produce
pollutants that form both ozone and particle
pollution. So make it a habit to turn off lights
you’re not using, and set your thermostat a little
higher this summer. You’ll help reduce pollution –
and you’ll save money, too.
• Reduce pollution from your car: Take public transit
• Don’t drive to work alone: Join a carpool or
vanpool, or take public transit (you’ll save money,
• Keep your car maintained. Just replacing a clogged
air filter can lead to a savings of 55 gallons, or at
least three trips to the gas station over a year.
Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/Z6dni9
• Fill your gas tank during cooler evening hours in
warm weather. Avoid spilling gas, don't "top off" the
tank and replace your gas tank cap tightly.
• Follow local recommendations on Air Pollution
Action Days. Not sure how to find out if today is an
Action Day where you live? Sign up for Illinois
EnviroFlash, to get local air quality messages sent
straight to your email.
For more tips, see: www.cleantheair.org