Healthy air = healthy you

Checking local air quality can help you plan your day. Air quality may change throughout a 24-hour period, depending on temperature and other conditions. To get the current forecast as well as forecasts for today and tomorrow, go to and click on Missouri in the top bar for states. You also may type in your zip code. Then, click on Go. From March through October, the forecasts take into account concentrations of ozone and particulate matter. During cooler months, the forecast relies on data about particle pollution.

Consider signing up for air quality notifications for greater Kansas City, St. Louis and/or Springfield through EnviroFlash, a service provided by EPA's AirNow. You can receive daily forecasts or just notifications of action days — days forecasted orange to maroon on EPA's Air Quality Index

Understanding the Air Quality Index

EPA created its color-coded index to help people figure out how air quality can affect their health. Colors correspond to different levels of health concern, and numerical values correlate with the department's data. For example, an AQI value of 100 corresponds to the federal standard for a pollutant, or the level EPA has set to protect public health.

Using the Air Quality Index can help you plan your activities, particularly on days when the forecast is orange to maroon.

Air Quality Index chart

Breathing Better

On days with higher air pollution, do the following:

* Limit your time outdoors, especially if you have asthma or other respiratory issues.
* Avoid prolonged or vigorous outdoor activity.
* Reschedule outdoor activities for another day.
* Keep your windows closed at home and in your vehicle to minimize exposure to ground-level ozone (smog).
* Avoid high-traffic areas, where the concentration of smog may be especially high.
* Understand the effects that air pollution can have on your health. Be proactive; protect your health.
Resources include:
• EPA's newsletter: How Can You Protect Your Heart from Air Pollution?
Seminar on Feb. 28, 2018, sponsored by the National Environmental Health Association: Healthy Heart — Air Pollution & Heart Health
• EPA leaflet: Asthma and Outdoor Air Pollution

One person can make a difference in Missouri's air quality. Reducing the amount of dangerous emissions from vehicles benefits our outdoor air. You can safeguard Missouri's air quality by taking the following steps. These tips and many others appear in the department's fact sheet "What You Can Do to Improve the Air" and its publication about ways to minimize idling.

* Reduce gas consumption, help the air and save money.
* Instead of driving every day to work, try carpooling, bicycling and using public transport.
Walk, if possible.
* Keep your tires inflated to the suggested amount.
* Minimize idling. Turn off your engine while waiting in drive-through lines and drop-off zones.
* Stop at the first click when filling your vehicle's tank to avoid releasing dangerous fumes.

Conserve energy and lower emissions from power plants.
* Replace your home's air filters regularly.
* Use LED bulbs.
* Turn off appliances when not in use.
* Air-dry clothing and linens. Use white vinegar in the rinse cycle, reduce the amount of detergent and fluff briefly in the dryer to decrease stiffness.
* Raise your thermostat in winter, lower it in summer.