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WI Summer Outdoors: Be Air-Aware

June 11, 2012

BROOKFIELD, Wis. - Summertime in Wisconsin means more time spent outdoors, breathing in the air. Jerry Medinger, manager of the Clean Fuels and Vehicle Technologies Program with the American Lung Association in Wisconsin, says most people do not realize how much air they take in every day.

"The average American breathes about 11,000 liters a day. That's almost 3,000 gallons of air, and if you think about it, that's about the size of a small tanker truck. And that's an average, that's without taking into account any kind of exercise or heavy activity."

Summer in Wisconsin also means some bad-air days, with higher ozone levels or increased particulate pollution.

Medinger says it's easy to find out what the air quality is in your area.

"On any given day, anyone in Wisconsin can call our air-quality hotline. It's sponsored by the American Lung Association in Wisconsin's Clean Air Choice program, and the number is 1-866-DAILY-AIR (866-324-5924)."

The hotline provides recorded hourly pollutant concentrations on a color scale - green is good air, yellow means a moderate amount of pollutants, orange means the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups like children, older adults and people with asthma or who work or exercise outdoors, and red means the air is unhealthy for everyone.

To help air quality, people can choose to walk more and drive less, Medinger adds, and people who have a flex-fuel vehicle can use E-85 gas, which is much cleaner-burning. He has another tip, too.

"In the summertime we'd also suggest that fueling for any vehicle be done later in the day, so that those evaporative emissions don't have a chance to react with sunlight and become part of the smog problem."

Free apps allowing Android phones or iPhones to show nearby E-85 stations are available at www.DriveAlternatives.com. More tips about clean fuels and vehicles are at www.CleanAirChoice.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI