Everything You Need to Know About Spring Air Quality
With the nicer weather, we’re all excited to get outside more! After all, spring is a beautiful time to enjoy brighter days and increased warmth.
However, springtime is also allergy season. And the pollen in the air irritates a lot of people—especially those suffering from respiratory illnesses. But did you know that many other factors impact spring air quality?
In this blog, we’re highlighting the changes in air quality during spring, so you’re prepared to handle it.
Why is Air Quality Worse in Spring?
Air quality in the spring tends to be worse for several reasons. First, pollutants left over from winter in the northern hemisphere can cause increased ozone at ground level. There are higher levels of ammonia and other pollutants from farming. Finally, as plants start to bloom, the pollen increases in the air around you.
6 Common Air Pollutants in Spring
Many different air pollutants can increase during the spring. These are the most common air pollutants that impact spring air quality:
- Ozone: Concentrations of ozone are higher on warmer, sunny days when the air is stagnant.
- Pollutants from Farming: Ammonia is released into the air during farming, and in some areas, farmers may burn fields and crops.
- Pollen: During spring, pollen is released from many plants, triggering allergies and respiratory issues.
- Dust and Dirt: Dry and windy weather can stir up dust and dirt particles that worsen air quality. Pets are also shedding their winter fur coats, causing more dander.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): These are chemicals emitted from products such as cleaning supplies, paints and solvents. So, your spring cleaning may be negatively impacting your indoor air quality.
- Particulate Matter: Concentrations of particulate matter tend to be higher in spring than in winter.
How Air Pollution Makes Allergies Worse
According to the World Allergy Organization, pollen allergies impact between 10-40% of the world, and the numbers continue to increase. For many years, scientists have suspected that the increase in people experiencing allergies resulted from air pollution and climate change.
Here are 2 reasons why air pollution affects allergies:
- #1 - Vehicle emissions and other air pollutants create a ‘photochemical smog’ that traps pollen from escaping into the upper atmosphere, increasing the amount of pollen at ground level and therefore breasted in by people.
- #2 - Ozone sets off a chain reaction that changes the protein structure of allergens. This change in structure is more likely to bond with nitrogen dioxide, exacerbating the immune response.
How to Reduce Spring Allergies
While you can’t completely avoid going outside during spring, you can monitor pollen levels and choose to stay indoors on higher pollen days (with your windows closed) or wear a mask outside. But don’t assume that indoor air quality is better than outdoors.
Additionally, to reduce spring allergies you can:
- Clean your home often
- Wash your pillowcases regularly
- Invest in an air purifier (or make your own!)
- Avoid planting certain plants in your garden
- Buy an air quality monitor
- Shower and change your clothes after being outside
While spring is a wonderful season, it’s important to be aware of the things impacting spring air quality and take action to improve air quality, particularly if you experience seasonal allergies.
Worried about your air quality?
Monitor the Particulate Matter levels around the world with our free, real-time PurpleAir Map or join PurpleAir's mission to make air quality data accessible to everyone by investing in an air quality monitor for your home.
Together, we can be informed and make changes in our daily habits and the community to improve air quality.