The average person breathes about 20,000 liters of air every day. There are particles in the air you breathe that could be harmful. Particles, such as dust, soot, mold, bacteria, and viruses, land on airway and alveolar surfaces. The respiratory system has defense mechanisms to clean and protect itself:
When the lungs are exposed to foreign particles, more white blood cells can be recruited to help protect the lungs. However, on high pollution days our defenses can be overwhelmed and our lungs are more affected by pollution.
The level of risk from air pollution depends on several factors:
The Utah Department of Air Quality has developed an air quality alert system to communicate health guidance and activity restrictions based on current pollution levels. This alert system consists of two parts:
1) Health guidance - The Environmental Protection Agency's national standard is the Air Quality Index (AQI), which has six color-coded categories. The AQI will help you understand what your local air quality conditions are and what that means for your health. Click here for current AQI conditions in Utah
2) Action alerts - Three symbols are used to indicate activity restrictions: