“Like a sunburn” – What a high ozone day means for your lungs

From the American Lung Association's  "Health Effects of Ozone and Particle Pollution"

From the American Lung Association’s “Health Effects of Ozone and Particle Pollution”

Today is the first ozone alert day of the early summer season. The Air Pollution Control District warned us yesterday that ozone levels would be in the orange zone today. This means kids, older adults, active adults, and anyone with heart and/or lung problems should stay inside today. If you usually run, bike or walk outside, head to the gym instead. The problem started yesterday afternoon when the Air Quality Index for Ozone reached 101 around 3 in the afternoon. In 2015, our first air quality alert was issued on June 10 and in 2014 the first forecast for bad air was issued for July 22.

In this video from the American Lung Association, the animation shows how polluted air inflames the body, creating “a bad sunburn” inside the lungs and nose. This “sunburn” tightens up the airways and makes it hard to breathe when ozone levels are high.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s interview with Colin Mayfield of WLKY, Jefferson County got an F for air quality in the American Lung Association’s 2016 State of the Air report. We had 26 “orange” ozone days last year, which means that the ozone levels were unhealthy for young people, older people and anyone with asthma, heart disease, or other breathing problems. We had 6 red ozone days, which means the air was unhealthy for all of us in the metro area, and one purple day which is extremely unhealthy.

Rain and wind help to clear the air, so tomorrow’s rain could lower the levels. You can get air quality alerts from KAIRE to keep track of the health of our air all summer.

The government uses colors to indicate the levels of pollution in the air.

The government uses colors to indicate the levels of pollution in the air.

Image from the American Lung Association




Help us get air quality on the agenda at SxSW Eco 2016

At SxSW Eco 2015, there were no sessions about air quality. The conference audience learned about water and energy and smart cities, but nothing about air and its impact on human health.

We want to fill that gap and get air quality on the agenda at this year’s conference. We have submitted two session proposals for this year’s conference. Part of the selection process involves community voting.

Here is where you come in. Please take five minutes to vote for our two sessions and help us get air quality on the agenda.

  1. Create an account
  2. Vote for the AIR Louisville case study
  3. Vote for the “Clean Air is a Competitive Advantage” panel discussion

To vote, just click the thumbs up icon in the upper left.

We created a video to go along with each session. You can watch video about our community asthma project above. The “competitive advantage” session highlights air quality efforts in Portland, San Francisco and Salt Lake City. Scroll down to see who I’ll be talking with during that session.

We want to start a national conversation about air and its impact on human health. Please take a few minutes to vote for our two sessions.

Voting ends Friday, so take a minute today to show your support for us.




Louisville falls to #4 on 2016 Spring Allergy Capitals list

AAFA Allergy Capitals 2016

On this list, our city is headed in the right direction, if only slowly. In 2014, Louisville was #1 for spring allergies. In 2015, the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America crunched the numbers and ranked us #2. This year, thanks to less pollen in the air (hard to believe, but true), we have dropped to #4.

According to an AAFA spokesperson, it appears Louisville “lost” a number of certified allergists over the last year. The number of board certified allergists affects a city’s ranking in the Capitals list. This change was probably due to retirement, but there has also been significant consolidation among hospitals and physician offices. This trend may have contributed to the change in the number of providers available. Also, the city experienced lower than anticipated pollen counts.

The factor that kept Louisville high in the chart was the continued high level of pharmaceutical, over-the-counter and behind-the-counter allergy medication use. The lower than anticipated pollen levels didn’t seem to make much of a difference in terms of treatment needs.

Jackson, MS is at the top of the list for the second year in a row due to higher than average pollen scores, higher than average medication usage, and availability of board-certified allergists in the area. The other cities on AFFA’s top 10 list are:

  1. Memphis, TN
  2. Syracuse, NY – up from #20
  3. Louisville, KY
  4. McAllen, TX
  5. Wichita, KS
  6. Oklahoma City, OK
  7. Providence, RI
  8. Knoxville, TN
  9. Buffalo, NY – up from #26

You can see the entire list here.

Donate Now
Subscribe for Updates
Get Involved

Contact Us

Waterfront Plaza, West Tower – 11th Floor 325 W. Main Street, Suite 1110 Phone: +1 (502) 386-5821 Fax: +1 (502) 386-5821 Email:

Stay Connected