Archive | June, 2015

Fireworks on the Fourth


On the Fourth of July, families, friends and communities gather to celebrate our independence and the birth of our nation. Typically, fireworks play a central role in honoring the spirit of the holiday.

Fireworks are great for celebrating:  they’re loud, they’re bright and they’re all-around fun. However, they have a downside: they contribute to air pollution and can greatly impair air quality for quite some time after the colorful displays have ended. Smoke from fireworks poses a health risk — particularly for those with asthma — and traces of accelerants and heavy metals used to create colors can stay in the air and water for weeks.

Here are some fun and healthy ways to celebrate the Fourth:

  • Watch a community fireworks show. Many cities and counties host fireworks displays for everyone to enjoy. Grab some friends and food and enjoy a professional show for free, instead of adding to air pollution with your own fireworks. Besides, professionals get to use the BIG impressive fireworks! Check your local news station to find a display near you.
  • Buy fewer personal fireworks. You may not be willing to completely forego a family tradition, but cutting back on the amount of fireworks you use is very beneficial. Fewer fireworks equal fewer harmful particles distributed into the air we breathe. (Plus, it’s much safer!)
  • Host a block party and share a grill. Holidays are about celebrating together, and block parties are a fun way to catch up with neighbors and friends. Try using just one grill instead of several to reduce the amount of fine particles released into our air. Lighting the coals with a charcoal chimney helps, too.
  • Stroll over to the community parade. For many of us, the Independence Day parade is a highlight of the holiday. Everyone enjoys a good parade complete with small treats and prizes, and civic groups turn out to offer an exciting, visual way to celebrate local history. Try walking or biking to the parade route instead of driving — you’ll avoid traffic and parking hassles while you help reduce emissions.
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Keep kids safe this summer with air-friendly activities

It’s summertime and that means kids should be outside soaking up the sun. We want them to breathe easy while the living is easy, so here are a few activities that help improve air quality and some to try when it’s not as good:

AIR-FRIENDLY OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

  • Ride a bike. Biking is practically a rite of passage for kids, and it doesn’t produce the same harmful emissions as driving. It’s also a fun way to travel and an excellent source of exercise. The Kansas City metro area has a number of great bike trails for you and your children to try.
  • Spend time at a summer camp with an environmental focus. Kansas City has a lot of camps that incorporate environmental stewardship within various areas of interests like science, performing arts and sports. Talk with counselors ahead of time to encourage them to check the SkyCast before outdoor activities.
  • Volunteer with an organization that helps the environment, like a sustainability group. For example, Bridging The Gap helps air quality by planting trees and restoring natural prairies in the Greater Kansas City region. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and it teaches your children responsibility and compassion.

INDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR OZONE ALERT DAYS

  • Discover the artist within by doing some arts and crafts. Your kids can draw, paint, sculpt or create hundreds of other projects all within the comfort of their own home when the air quality is poor. If you don’t want the mess at your house, Kansas City has several art studios where your children can go. Grab a play date and carpool there!

We want you and your children to enjoy your summer so be sure to always check the SkyCast before doing any outdoor activity.

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Breathe easy during outdoor summer activities

Summer is almost here and with it comes more fun in the sun. Outdoor activities are a great way to be active and stay healthy. However, the air you breathe could negatively impact your health when ozone levels are high, especially if you have asthma or other respiratory conditions. Here are a few ways you can protect yourself when you’re outdoors:

  • Always check the SkyCast before being outdoors for an extended period of time. It will tell you what the air quality is predicted to be each day. Sign up for alerts via email or text message, or follow MARC Air Quality on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Plan ahead when exercising outdoors. If the SkyCast calls for elevated ground-level ozone, consider an indoor activity. If you do choose to go out, do so during the cooler parts of the day — before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. Poor air quality typically occurs during the hottest part of the day, when conditions are right for ozone to form.
  • Limit vigorous outdoor activity during an ozone alert. The harder you exercise the more air you need. If ozone levels are high, you are consuming poor air at a rapid rate. Try walking instead of jogging or yoga instead of lifting weights.
  • Listen to your body. Regardless of whether air quality is good or poor, your body knows when it needs hydration or a break.
  • Buddy up with a partner or a group to watch one another for any health problems. Sometimes someone else will notice a problem before you feel it.

We want you to be safe when engaging in any physical activity. Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice and carry any necessary medication with you, such as an inhaler. And don’t forget to take small steps to help take care of our air!

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