Feeling a little stuffy? Changes in the weather translate to changes in air quality, which can bring on seasonal allergies. As the Treasure Valley begins the transition from summer to autumn, you may be a bit congested, have watery eyes, or just feel a little blah. The Boise Healthy Living Examiner feels your seasonal pain. Allergies to weeds, grasses, trees and pollen affect many Treasure Valley residents. Factor in outdoor burning and residential wood heating, and your sinuses can go crazy. You probably already know what time of year you are affected by allergies, even if you’re not sure which specific plants cause you to feel bad. But you can easily assess your daily risk for allergies by consulting the air quality index.
The Air Quality Index (or AQI) considers the levels of five known pollutants in our air each day, and gives a color-coded numerical rating so that residents of the community can know what to expect. For example, a good air quality day is when the pollutant level is 50 or below, and this is indicated by the color green. Air quality is considered moderate when pollutants cause the index to rise to between 51 and 100, which is indicated by the color yellow. You can read the Treasure Valley’s daily AQI by clicking on this link. Today’s AQI, by the way, is 45. That means the air quality is good, and there are no restrictions on outdoor burning or residential wood heating.
Pollutants considered for the AQI include two different types of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, and sulfur dioxide. Most of these pollutants come from vehicle exhaust, so if the air doesn’t seem right, or if you notice that the AQI for the day is yellow, try to avoid driving as much as possible. People with respiratory ailments, such as asthma, need to pay careful attention to the AQI, although it’s a good idea for everyone to be aware.
Another helpful tool for seasonal allergy sufferers is the pollen count. On this scale, 0 is low and 12 is high. You can look this up online and find several resources. Most online weather forecast sites have a tab for pollen count. Although each resource varies, you can usually learn what’s blooming today and know whether or not you’ll want to take some allergy medicine and keep your windows closed. At this time of year, ragweed and sagebrush are rampant, and they are very common allergens. In fact, today ragweed is high (6 to 7, depending on which resource you use), so you may want to take some over the counter allergy medicine before heading outside for this otherwise beautiful day. Click on this link for today’s pollen count.
Talk it up:
Are you affected by seasonal allergies and/or poor air quality?
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