The summer of 2023 could go down as one of the worst when it comes to air quality. The Canadian wildfires, coupled with extreme heat, have led to numerous alerts and advisories across the country. Now, scientists from NOAA, NASA and 21 universities from three countries are investigating air quality indoors and out.

According to Professor Terri Adams, some of the findings have been worrisome, “According to the EPA, indoor air quality is sometimes two to five times more toxic than outdoor air.”

Indoor pollutants can come from synthetic building materials, household products, poor ventilation and cooking. The particulate matter from these pollutants can cause health effects, anything from headaches and irritation to respiratory diseases up to cancer.

“I would say that we have two major goals – one is to make people more aware and also so we can collect data to inform policymakers where resources need to go,” says Professor Adams.

Most Americans spend around 90% of their time indoors. With statistics like that, it’s important to take steps to improve indoor air quality.

  • Increase ventilation. Get the air flowing with fans or the air conditioner. On crisp days, natural ventilation works as well by opening up a window.
  • Use filters. Filters in the AC unit, as well as other areas of the home offer extra protection.
  • Clean regularly. Vacuuming carpets will help decrease dust buildup and dust mites.
  • Buy a house plant. While this comes with some controversy, house plants are known to reduce carbon monoxide and increase oxygen levels. On the other hand, it is possible house plants can have mold and mildew spores on them.

While 2023 has been rough for air quality from sea to sea, overall, the Ozarks is lucky to have low pollutants compared to the other major cities. You can see St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield’s air qualities here.

When it comes to outdoor air quality county by county, Greene County does not have the highest pollution. When judging from average daily density of fine particulate matter, Taney and Christian are two counties that score higher than Greene County.