Cold Weather

Cold Weather: Affecting Air Pollution

What us Air Quality?

Air Quality refers to the condition of the air around us. Good air quality pertains to the degree which in the air is clean, clear and free from pollutants such as smoke, dust, and smog along with other pollutants in the air.

Air quality is determined by looking at a variety of pollution indicators. Good air quality is a requirement for keeping the balance of life on earth safe for humans, plants, animals and natural resources. Humans, plants, animals and natural resources are in danger when pollution levels in the air get too high.

Poor air quality can affect harm on humans and the environment. Air quality can be polluted by natural or man-made sources. Some of the natural resources are volcanic eruptions and windstorm dust. Man-made sources include moving vehicles, toxic gases from industries, coal powered plants, burning wood and other materials and landfills. Both of these sources can really affect the air quality.

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Cold Weather and Air Quality

When the weather gets cold enough, exhaust from vehicles and homes becomes visible in the air. The vapor is more visible in the air and the levels of pollution are higher in the winter.

Sources of pollution, like industrial emissions are constant throughout the year, no matter the season. Cold temperatures and dull air have a way of creating build-up of these substances near the ground, particularly during a weather events called temperature inversions. In a temperature inversion, smoke can’t rise and carbon monoxide can reach unhealthy levels. From an air quality perspective, storms are an event welcomed to happen. Wind, rain and snow storms are sometimes called scrubbers because they help clean our and circulate substances of concern.

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Cold Weather and Indoor Air Quality

During the winter, indoor air quality also becomes a greater concern because of the amount of time people stay inside with poor ventilation. Without adequate circulation, carbon dioxide levels can become a problem, leading to headaches and lethargy. Generally, outdoor air quality is better than indoor air quality, thus making it better to step outside every day, open windows for short periods of time if possible, and keep the fireplaces and ventilation systems cleaned and maintained.

Open the windows in your house every four hours or so for about 10 minutes to get some circulation. Check your ventilation systems often. If the weather isn’t too chilly, step out the front door for a short period of time. Keep yourself healthy during these cold weather spells.