Baby, It's Hot Outside!

How does air quality relate to air temperature?

What’s more miserable than 97 degree heat? 97 degree heat you can’t breathe in! Most folks know that air quality goes down as temperatures go up. But not everyone knows that it is because the heat and sunlight essentially cook the air along with all the chemical compounds lingering within it. As a result, we are left with some ugly and unhealthy smog.

This is a recipe for difficult breathing if you already have respiratory ailments or heart problems. This “concoction” can also make healthy people far more susceptible to respiratory infections. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that urban areas are the most affected by poor air quality, due to the pollution being emitted from public transport, cars, and trucks, etc.

How can I help?!

Today, most of this is common knowledge. Even some of the ways we can help reduce the pollution in the air are well know, such as:

  • Carpooling is a great way to reduce your environmental impact as well utilizing public transport! The fewer car trips, the better! Bonus: you get to feel superior to those sitting in traffic while you whizz by in the carpool lane!
  • If you must drive then replenish your car’s fuel only at night. This simple time shift in your gas station visits help prevent escaping gas vapors from getting cooked into smog by sunlight. Who knew that?!
  • Don’t spend your entire summer barricaded in a frigid fortress. Set your thermostats a few degrees higher than usual; it will help reduce the fossil fuel burning that’s needed to power them! You’ll survive, we promise.
  • Take this tip one step further, and help your cooling system further by avoiding using heat generating appliances during the day, such as the stove, clothes dryer or dishwasher.
  • When you do finally drag yourself out of your nice air conditioned home to cut the jungle of grass growing in your front yard, avoid gas-powered lawn equipment. There are definitely greener alternatives, our personal favorite would be popping a few little goats out there and letting them have at it!
Hot Summer Day

How can I protect myself?

While society as a whole continues to grapple with improving air quality for all citizens, you are probably more concerned with protecting your lungs right now. Here are a few easy tips to make you breathe a bit easier on those stifling hot days:

  • You will want to stay away from being particularly active outdoors during periods of extreme heat, especially within areas that are heavily polluted. You are welcome! We have just given you permission to be lazy!
  • Keeping water on hand at all times is incredibly important. The better hydrated you are, the better your body responds to the heat.
  • Conventional wisdom tells you to stay inside to avoid breathing in the smog. But, be sure to protect your indoor air, as well! Most people don’t realize how dirty the air in their homes and offices are. So, take the extra step to clean it with plants, keep air circulating with fans and - of course! - change your home’s air filters.

So, don’t sweat it! There’s plenty you can do to make the summer heat a bit more comfortable to breathe in. Go ahead, take a deep breathe!

Alec Lower

Content Writer

Alec is a third-year member of the team at Second Nature. He brings expert knowledge of a myriad of home air filtration topics including HVAC filters, filtration efficiency, and indoor air quality.