Winter weather brings risk to air quality


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Listen to this week’s radio segment about how winter weather affects air quality.

Bone-chilling temperatures, snow and ice – that’s what most Iowans expect to brave each winter. But we should be aware of another quirk of Iowa’s winters: poor air quality.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

In these cold months, you may notice more air quality warnings than normal.

That’s because winter weather can bring stagnant air masses that trap pollution from cars, trucks and wood and coal-burning near the ground.

It’s called a temperature inversion. Warm air from above blankets cold air nearer to the ground and prevents pollutants from dispersing.  This makes the air dangerous to breathe.

Exposure to these particles can lead to serious medical problems, including asthma and heart and lung disease.  For those already with these conditions, it can worsen their symptoms.

To stay safe on these days, smokers, children and the elderly should avoid prolonged outdoor activity.

For more information, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

I’m Jerry Schnoor from the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.

Thank You.

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