Unhealthy Air Quality for Sensitive Groups: What Does This Mean?

Now that global pollution has become a major worldwide concern, a lot of people are talking about how bad the AQI (air quality index) is in their cities. In many places, the AQI level is “unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups.” Unfortunately, many people don’t understand what this means. Some even have no idea what AQI means. So here is a brief explanation.

Understanding the AQI

The air quality index shows how bad the air in a certain area is if breathed in by humans. The measurement of this parameter depends on how many contaminants are in the air in a specific area. The more polluted the air, the higher the AQI score will be, and therefore, the worse it is to breathe in.

To make it easier to understand, AQI scores are divided into six categories. Each describes the status of how the air will affect the health of humans who breathe it in. Here are those six categories:

  • Good

When the AQI ranges from 0-50

  • Moderate

When the AQI ranges from 51-100

  • Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups

When the AQI ranges from 101-150

  • Unhealthy

When the AQI ranges from 151-200

  • Very Unhealthy

When the AQI ranges from 201-300

  • Hazardous

When the AQI is 301 or higher

All these terms are easy to understand, except for number three. The term “unhealthy for sensitive groups” might leave some people wondering what that means. Here is a further explanation to help you understand it better.

Unhealthy Air Quality for Sensitive Groups

The term “sensitive groups” refers to people with health issues that could be affected by pollution. People who fall into this category include:

    • Babies
    • Young children
    • Elderly people
    • People with respiratory disease
    • People with allergies
    • People with hypersensitivity

For people with sensitivity issues, an index of 101-150 would be bad enough to affect their health situation. People with asthma will experience shortness of breath more often. Children and the elderly may suffer more coughing or allergic reactions. Long-term exposure may cause more serious damage.

However, such issues are unlikely to happen to most people at this level of air quality. People without these pre-existing health issues start experiencing trouble with their respiratory and overall health when the AQI levels hit the range of 151-200. At this level, people in sensitive groups may experience even worse health complications.

You should limit outdoor activities if the AQI reaches an unhealthy level. Invest in an air purifier system in your house to maintain healthy indoor air. Wearing a mask may also help, although it won’t provide 100% protection. If possible, moving to a town with better AQI would be a good idea for your family’s health in the long run.

Air quality may significantly affect our health. Even if you have no sensitivity issues, unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups can quickly rise to an unhealthy level. That is why we should do our best to tackle the climate crisis and pollution together as a community.

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