Air Quality Information for Seniors
On this page:
How does air pollution affect seniors?
When and where am I most at
should I do to avoid bad air outside?
What should I do during a
What about air
Information for residents of retirement communities.
More Information and Resources
How does air pollution affect seniors?
respiratory illness, and heart conditions are aggravated by pollutants
in the air.
- Ozone: Ozone is a primary ingredient in smog. Studies indicate
that exposure to ground-level ozone air pollution, even at very low
levels, can cause a number of respiratory health effects. Ozone
irritates the respiratory system, reduces lung function, can make
asthma symptoms worse, and can inflame and damage the lining of the
- Particular Matter: Fine mineral, metal, soot, smoke, and dust
particles suspended in the air can permanently lodge in the deepest
and most sensitive areas of the lung, and can aggravate many
respiratory illnesses including asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.
High levels of particle pollution have also been associated with a
higher incidence of heart problems, including heart attacks.
When and where am I most at risk?
- During poor air quality days
- Near a wildfire
- Oftentimes indoors if the proper precautions are not taken.
I do to avoid bad air outside?
- Watch for air quality advisories. Sign up to receive
notifications on this page.
- Check our "Today's Air
Quality" page - orange means the air is "unhealthy for sensitive
- Reschedule outdoor recreational activities when the air is bad.
- Stay indoors, especially if you have lung conditions, such as
asthma or bronchitis, or heart conditions.
What should I do during a wildfire?
- Stay indoors, especially if you are an at risk population.
- If air quality is poor for an extended period of time, consider
leaving the area.
- Consult with your doctor before buying and using a mask. Masks
and respirators can provide a false sense of security, and are also
not recommended for people who already have lung problems as masks
can restrict airflow. Masks will also not be effective if they are
not the proper kind and are not properly worn.
Find more information at the CDC.
- Even after the fire has been extinguished, winds can carry ash,
soot, and other pollutants. Pay attention to air quality advisories
after a fire to find out if the air is safe.
What about the air inside?
products we use every day as well as appliances, furniture, and building
materials emit gases that can become trapped indoors. Many of these
gasses are pollutants that are harmful to health. To improve indoor air:
- Reduce sources of pollutants. Don’t smoke
indoors, keep the room free of dust and pet dander, and use safe
cleaning products. Follow these safe
fireplace burning tips.
- Ventilate. Open windows and doors to allow air to
circulate when the air outside is clean.
- Filter. Remove pollutants with an appropriate air
cleaner. However, you should never use indoor air cleaners that
generate ozone. Select a mechanical air cleaner with a fiber or
fabric filter. High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are
the most efficient. Filters should be tightly sealed in their
containers and cleaned or replaced regularly.
If you live
in a retirement community, find out how protected you are from
indoor and outdoor air pollution:
- Are the air filters in your heating and cooling systems
changed as often as the manufacturer’s recommend?
- Does the maintenance staff properly use cleaning products?
- Are your gas and combustion appliances properly ventilated?
- Does your landscaping service use electric leaf blowers and
lawnmowers? Also, make sure that leaf blowers are not used before or
shortly after a wildfire. Learn
more about safe leaf blower use here.
CDC Factsheet on Respirators
The District's web page on air cleaners
EPA Information on Indoor Air Cleaners
American Heart Association Statement on Air Pollution and Cardiovascular