It’s Air Quality Awareness Week: Keep an Eye on the AQI 

April 28, 2008

Be Air Aware Poster.

High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)

May marks the beginning of ozone season in most areas of the country – a good time to make sure that you check your daily Air Quality Index (AQI) and forecast information to help you protect your health. “Be Air Aware: Keep an Eye on the AQI” is the theme of this year’s Air Quality Awareness Week, April 28 to May 2.

NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency established the awareness week to remind Americans of the importance air quality forecasts can play in their daily lives.

"Weather plays a key role in air quality since sunlight and heat contribute to poor air quality in polluted areas," said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. "Along with our partners, NOAA is proud to provide the air quality forecast information necessary to make important health decisions."

About 300 cities nationwide issue daily forecasts based on EPA’s Air Quality Index, a simple, color-coded scale that describes a community’s air quality and what steps people should take to reduce their exposure to pollution. AQI forecasts are available for ozone, which occurs primarily in summertime, and for particle pollution, which can occur year-round.

New NOAA air quality forecast guidance, updated twice daily on, is improving state and local agency forecasters’ ability to predict the onset, severity and duration of poor air quality episodes. In addition, NOAA’s comprehensive air quality predictions provide hour-by-hour information for people in cities, suburbs, and rural areas over the entire lower 48 states.

When air pollution reaches high enough levels, the air can be unhealthy for everyone, especially if you are active outdoors. Reducing your exposure can be as simple as limiting exercise or other strenuous activities such as yard work, or rescheduling the activity for a time when air quality is expected to be better.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.