The U.S. State Department, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, places air quality monitors on some embassies and consulates around the world. To learn more about this program and see current measurements of the air quality index in Kampala, please visit www.airnow.gov.
The U.S. Embassy has an air quality monitor to measure PM 2.5 particulates as an indication of the air quality on the Embassy compound located in Kampala. Pollutants such as particle pollution are linked to a number of significant health effects — and those effects are likely to be more severe for sensitive populations, including people with heart or lung disease, children, and older adults. This monitor is a resource for the health of the American community. Citywide analysis cannot be done, however, on data from a single machine.
Particulates less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM 2.5) are referred to as “fine” particulates and are believed to pose the largest health risks. PM 2.5 is a standard recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and allows us to compare against U.S. standard measures. PM 2.5 particulates are of concern since they are small enough to directly enter the lungs and even the blood stream. For more information, please visit the EPA site.
The U.S. EPA has developed a formula to convert PM 2.5 readings into an air quality index (AQI) value than can help inform health-related decisions. For example, an AQI value of 50 represents good air quality with little potential to affect public health, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality.
|Air Quality Index Levels of Health Concern||Numerical Value||Meaning|
|Good||0 to 50||Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk|
|Moderate||51 to 100||Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.|
|Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups||101 to 150||Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.|
|Unhealthy||151 to 200||Everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.|
|Very Unhealthy||201 to 300||Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.|
|Hazardous||301 to 500||Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects.|
Quick Facts About the Air You Breathe Everyday
Some days, the air is clear and feels fresh and clean. Clean air is air that has no harmful levels of pollutants (such as dirt and chemicals) in it. Clean air is good for people to breathe. However, on some days the air can feel heavy and may smell. Sometimes, the air can even make your chest feel tight as you breathe, or make you cough. When too much dirt or too many chemicals get into the air, the air is dirty, or polluted.
Polluted air is not good for people to breathe. Breathing polluted air increases the risk of deadly diseases
such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and chronic bronchitis. Air pollution illnesses kill more people
than AIDS, TB and malaria combined.
What are the major sources of air pollution?
- Burning domestic trash
- Cooking with biofuels such as wood, charcoal, and straws
- Exhaust fumes from vehicles
- Use of contaminated vehicle fuel
- Smokestacks from factories
What are the economic benefits of clean air?
- With clean air, people are less sick and more productive.
- Clean, healthy air attracts tourists, foreign students, investors and the more highly-skilled employees needed to grow the economy and create jobs.
- Saves money through less expenditure on health such as hospital admissions
Ways you can reduce air pollution
- Stop burning household trash. Breathing in smoke from trash can cause headaches and respiratory infections and increase the risk of heart and lung disease. Trash smoke pollutes the air and affects many people far away from the burn site.
- Use improved cook stoves and reduce indoor cooking with biofuels such as wood and charcoal.
- Test and service your vehicles regularly. Use authentic quality fuels only.
- Ensure that your trash is properly separated in different bags marked bio-waste, plastics, or glass, and that the trash is ready for recycling and management at
- Do not unnecessarily idle your car engine – 10 seconds of idling wastes more fuel than restarting and produces unnecessary exhaust fumes that harm people around you.
- Use a mask while traveling in areas with unpaved dusty roads.
- Plant trees around your homes.
Partly adapted from www.airnow.gov | Additional notes from Kampala City Council Authority and Makerere University School of Public Health