President Barack Obama announced a plan earlier this month to reduce power plant emissions, a move that could improve air quality and greatly benefit asthma sufferers. The energy plan requires a reduction of power plant emissions in the U.S. by 32% by 2030. Obama said that these changes would help reduce 90,000 asthma attacks in children by 2030. The effect of air quality on asthma sufferers hits close to home for Obama—earlier this year he spoke about the fear he felt when his daughter Malia had an asthma attack when she was 4 years old.
Older coal-fired power plants that lack pollution control can emit sulfur dioxide, a known asthma trigger. Ground level ozone, considered “bad ozone,” is caused when pollutants from sources like cars and power plants chemically react with sunlight. High ground level zone levels can trigger asthma symptoms and are usually more of an issue in the summer because of high temperatures, high humidity and lighter winds. Urban areas can be even more problematic for asthma sufferers because of higher pollution levels.
In North Carolina, the ozone forecast season extends from April 1 to October 31. Asthma sufferers can monitor ozone levels by signing up for the Environmental Protection Agency’s EnviroFlash daily air quality forecasts. The forecast rates ozone and particle pollution levels on a scale from Code Green (Good) to Code Purple (Hazardous) as a way to help individuals sensitive to air quality, like asthma sufferers, decide if it’s safe to participate in outdoor activities.