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Air Quality and Health

​Air Quality in Sacramento County

The SacMetro AQMD is responsible for cleaning the air to meet state and federal health standards so we all breathe easier. The area's two biggest air pollutants are ground-level ozone and particulate matter 2.5. In Sacramento County, the majority of air pollution during the summer comes from mobile sources, which are the cars, trucks, buses, agriculture and construction equipment that are used every day. In the wintertime, the majority of air pollution comes from wood burning in residential fireplaces and wood stoves. Together we work to improve the health and quality of life for residents.  

​Air Quality Mobile App

Download the free Sacramento Region Air Quality app available in Apple, Google Play or Windows app stores. It provides the daily forecast, current conditions, Spare The Air alerts, plus the daily burn status for Sacramento County from November through February.

​Health Effects of Air Pollution

Many of us experience some kind of air pollution symptoms such as watery eyes, coughing or wheezing. Even for healthy people, polluted air can cause respiratory irritation or breathing difficulties during exercise or outdoor activities. An individual's actual risk depends on their current health status, the pollutant type and concentration, and the length of exposure to the polluted air.

People most susceptible to severe health problems are:

  • Individuals with heart disease, such as coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure
  • Individuals with lung disease, such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pregnant women
  • Outdoor workers
  • Children under age 14 whose lungs are still developing
  • Athletes who exercise vigorously outdoors

Health Effects from Specific Pollutants

Ground-level Ozone

Ground-level ozone reaches its highest level during the afternoon and early evening hours. High levels occur most often during the summer months. It's a strong irritant that can cause constriction of the airways, forcing the respiratory system to work harder in order to provide oxygen. It can also cause other health problems:

  • Agrravated respiratory disease such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma
  • Damage to deep portions of the lungs, even after symptoms such as coughing or a sore throat disappear
  • Wheezing, chest pain, dry throat, headache or nausea
  • Reduced resistance to infection 
  • Increased fatigue
  • Weakened athletic performance

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter is a complex mixture that may contain soot, smoke, metals, nitrates, sulfates, dust, water and tire rubber. It can be directly emitted, as in smoke from a fire, or it can form in the atmosphere from reactions of gases such as nitrogen oxides. The size of the particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles, known as PM2.5, pose the greatest threat because they can get deep into the lungs and even enter the bloodstream affecting both the heart and lungs:

  • Increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Aggravated asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and emphysema
  • Development of chronic respiratory disease in children
  • Development of chronic bronchitis
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nonfatal heart attacks
  • Premature death in people with heart or lung disease
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Climate Change

Many environmental risks have been made worse by climate change based on scientific studies, including flooding, drought and wildfires. The SacMetro AQMD works with the community to reduce those impacts in the Sacramento region.

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Air Quality Plans

Comprehensive strategies designed to meet or maintain compliance with federal and state air quality standards.

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Environmental Justice

​The SacMetro AQMD seeks to ensure fair treatment of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income, in the development of environmental policies and plans that affect the places people live, work, play and learn.

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Public Outreach

The SacMetro AQMD provides public outreach programs and materials to help residents know what they're breathing. Learn how to find the daily air quality forecast, what causes air pollution and how to help reduce it.

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