Ask Mr. Tim: Don’t Breathe Unless You Have To

Even if you didn’t catch the smog hanging around downtown last month, you’ve probably noticed all the air quality alerts broadcast on huge signs over the interstate this summer. When we realized we had no idea what that meant, we decided to ask the expert–Channel 4 meteorologist Tim Ross. It’s no secret that Nashvillest loves Mr. Tim for his crazy forecasts, amazing tie collection and silly poetry. In light of today’s Orange Alert, he’s been kind enough to break it down a bit and give us some valuable advice: Don’t breathe unless you have to. Mr. Tim’s take, after the jump:

The Air Quality Index is a standard based upon guidelines established by the Environmental Protection Agency. Somehow you just knew the government had to be involved in this, didn’t you? And isn’t it great to see your tax dollars so hard at work!!! Don’t get me started!!!

Though the EPA has developed a phone book sized guide to understanding the AQI, let me try simplify this thing. Bottom line…the AQI tells you whether the air you’re breathing is clean or dirty… simple as that! The daily AQI is particularly concerned with the health effects you’ll suffer in the short term… the next day or so. The AQI considers five major air pollutants; ground-level ozone, airborne particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Ground-level ozone and particulates are the two pollutants that pose the greatest health threats. Don’t breathe unless you have to! 🙂

You can forget all of the hoo-hah associated with the AQI… just concentrate on a single number. Generally speaking, an AQI lower than 100 represents a healthy situation. Anything over 100 is cause for concern, especially for those people with related health issues, ie: heart or respiratory ailments and/or advanced age. The higher the number the greater the health risk for everyone.

One last thing, and this is just my personal observation over time—Please know that 42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot. Or was that 43.5%?

Chart courtesy of the EPA.

Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Tim!