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The City of New Orleans

Plan for Emergencies

Air Quality

In New Orleans, pollutants (often called smog) and pollen can cause bad air quality. Some people experience respiratory health problems caused by bad air quality. Sunlight and lack of wind can trap pollutants in an area, causing health effects to worsen. The Environmental Protection Agency monitors air quality every day across the country. If air quality is harmful here, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality will call an "Air Action Day."

Air Quality Index: daily report on air quality - see today's air quality index in New Orleans

Air Action Day: called when air quality index is unhealthy

Sensitive groups: people who are more sensitive to air quality include:

  • Active children and adults
  • Elderly people
  • People with respiratory diseases, like asthma

When air quality is harmful

Stay inside and inactive

  • Sensitive groups should take extra precaution.
  • Avoid being outside in the afternoon & early evening. That's when air pollution levels are usually highest.
  • Do less physical activity. Physical activity increases the amount of air you breathe.

Keep harmful air out of your home

  • Close doors and windows.
  • Change air filters and run air conditioning in "recirculating mode."

Pay attention to signs of health problems

  • Wheezing, coughing & trouble breathing
  • Red, itchy & burning eyes, nose & mouth
  • Pain during deep breathing
  • If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor or nurse.

Help reduce pollution and bad air quality

There are things you can do to reduce the formation of ground-level ozone, the main chemical in smog.

Take precautions with your vehicle

  • Drive less often.
  • Refuel your vehicle after 6pm. Sunlight reacts with pollutants in the air to produce smog.
  • Ensure your gas cap is on tight.

Limit use of products with reactive fumes

  • Limit use of oil-based paint, varnishes, and solvents that produce fumes.
  • Use an electric starter instead of starter fluid for your grill.
  • Use gas-powered lawn equipment after 6pm.

Conserve energy

  • Conserve energy in your home. 
  • Turn off lights.
  • Moderate use of heat and air conditioning.