Air quality advisory issued for Linn, Black Hawk counties

Advisories for fine particulate matter expected to continue until Tuesday morning

March 28, 2014 | 11:55 am

UPDATE: Iowa officials are warning about poor air quality around Cedar Rapids and Waterloo because of high levels of fine particles in the air.

The state Department of Natural Resources issued an advisory Monday for Linn and Black Hawk counties.

The department says fine particle pollution levels have risen above the Environmental Protection Agency's health standards. The EPA threshold for fine particles is 35 micrograms per cubic meter.

As of noon Monday, the fine particle level in Cedar Rapids was 41.2 and Waterloo hit 47.3. Several other locations in the state also reported elevated levels.

State officials recommend people living in Linn and Black Hawk counties with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children limit prolonged outdoor exertion.

The particle pollution is expected to improve Tuesday morning when northeast winds move in.

Here's the news release from Linn County Public Health:

Linn County Public Health is issuing an air quality advisory for the next 24 hours. During this time period, people sensitive to air pollution including those with heart or lung disease and older adults should consider reducing activities that involve prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. The general population may find air quality to be acceptable.

Overnight, elevated ambient levels of fine particulate matter above the daily air quality health standard of 35 g/m3 were observed. A peak hourly level of 52 g/m3 was observed around 3:00am this morning. Levels continue to remain above the health standard of 35 g/m3 and will likely remain elevated throughout the day.

Fine and coarse particles can cause a variety of serious health problems. Effects including higher rates of hospitalization and emergency room visits for high risk individuals have been associated with short-term exposures lasting 24 hours or less. Particles can aggravate heart disease such as congestive heart failure and lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis.

You can reduce your exposure to particles by 1) planning strenuous activity when particle levels are forecast to be lower, 2) reducing the amount of time spent at vigorous activity, or 3) choosing a less strenuous activity (e.g., going for a walk instead of a jog).

Tips for reducing particle pollution on days when level are expected to be high:

Real-time and historic ambient air quality monitoring data is posted on the Linn County Public Health Air Quality Website at www.linncleanair.org. For further questions, please contact the air quality branch at 892-6000.

For more detailed information about air quality where you live:

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