WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) to educate the public and healthcare providers about the risks of air pollution to the heart.
"Over more than four decades of EPA history, we've made tremendous progress cleaning up the air we breathe by using science to understand the harmful effects of air pollution," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “While EPA continues to fight for clean air, Americans can take further action to protect their heart health by following the advice in our new PSA.”
February is American Heart Month, and one of EPA’s commitments in the U.S. Surgeon General’s National Prevention Strategy is to educate health care professionals on the health effects of air pollution, including heart risks. This PSA supports the Million Hearts initiative, launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September, 2011 to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
Air pollution can trigger heart attacks, stroke, and worsen heart conditions, especially in people with heart disease. One in three Americans in the United States has heart disease. Very small particles are the pollutants of greatest concern for triggering health effects from exposure to air pollutants. These particles are found in transportation exhaust, haze, smoke, and dust and sometimes in air that looks clean. Particle pollution can be found in the air at any time of the year.
People with heart disease should check the daily Air Quality Index forecast, which is color coded, to protect their health. At code orange or higher, particle pollution can be harmful to people with heart disease. On bad air quality days, it is recommended to reschedule outdoor exercise or exercise indoors instead, and avoid exercising near busy roads.
Air Quality Index forecasts for more than 400 cities are available on the forecast map through the free AirNow app for iPhone and Android phones, and through the free EnviroFlash e-mail service. To sign up, visit here and click on the “Apps” or “EnviroFlash” icons.