This May, the AQI in Phoenix has already been flagged multiple times for HPA, which is USG. Although these acronyms may be a mystery to most, we’d all be well-advised to learn their meanings. AQI stands for Air Quality Index, and most poor air quality days in Phoenix occur in May, June, and July.
Poor air quality is affected by high ozone levels, which are dangerous for anyone with respiratory concerns, and particle pollutions, which contribute to stroke and heart attack risk. HPA indicates a High Pollution Advisory, while the acronym USG stands for Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s airnow.gov, sensitive groups include older adults, children, active adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma. So for a number of days this month, it seems just about everyone should have stayed indoors. Who knew?
Phoenix continues to be one of the nation’s highest air pollution regions, putting sensitive groups like older adults at-risk, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and others.
Especially between May and July, watch the daily weather forecast for air quality advisories or go to airnow.gov to check the Air Quality Index before exercising outdoors. When the AQI is USG or worse, avoid any prolonged time outside or wear a face mask that has N95, P100, or NIOSH printed on it. These masks can be purchased at most hardware stores. Additionally, if you see others exercising outdoors on high pollution advisory days, encourage them to exercise inside. Lastly, check out Maricopa County's Clean Air Initiative for more great tips and to learn how to be a clean air advocate on Campus and in the broader Phoenix community.