What does “Air Quality” Mean?

shutterstock_381629650_鍓湰With recent reports about the horrible gagging smog in China and other major world cities, we’re hearing more and more about “Air Quality.”  What exactly is this and how can it affect you and your children’s health?  Air quality measures the amount of humidity, pollution, general weather conditions, temperature, plus how these all combine to affect the oxygen levels in the air we breathe.

In simpler terms, if the temperature is 90 degrees and the humidity level is more than 70%, the air can feel heavier, make breathing more difficult, and generally affect what we do outdoors.  I live in the southern part of The United States and the best way to describe summer air quality is to wrap your body in a wet wool blanket, jump inside a 500 degree oven, and bake for thirty minutes while performing 100 sit ups.  For people who have compromised respiratory systems, older adults, and children, air quality plays an important part in making sure one stays safe while participating in outdoor activities.

Below is a list of the color system most weather stations use to describe the air we need to breathe.  The recommendations can help you plan outings for your family and also help keep you safe.  Physical activity refers to strenuous things such as jogging, running, etc.  The chart at the end of this article is used by many child care centers, summer camps, and schools to judge safety for outdoor activities.


Code Purple shutterstock_125563325_副本_副本4

This code is used to describe air which is very heavy and polluted.  It can cause people and children with respiratory illnesses such as asthma to have difficulty breathing while participating in outdoor activities.  On Code Purple days, it is advised to not be outdoors from noon to 8PM.

Code Red   shutterstock_125563325_副本_副本1

On a Code Red day, the air quality is approaching unhealthy levels and can be dangerous. It’s advised children not be outdoors for more than 15 minutes between the hours of noon and 8PM participating in physical activity.

Code Orange shutterstock_125563325_副本_副本2

On a Code Orange day, it is advised children not be outdoors participating in physical activities for more than 30 minutes between the hours of noon and 8PM.  Anyone who has trouble breathing is advised to stay indoors during this time period.

Code Yellow shutterstock_125563325_副本_副本

Code Yellow days mean to simply be aware of your activities outdoors and monitor breathing.  It is not considered unhealthy or dangerous.

Code Greenshutterstock_125563325_副本_副本6

Code Green days are healthy air and just perfect for picnics, baseball games, and loads of summer fun.

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