Cook County Urges Residents to Protect Their Health During Air Quality Action Days

Air quality alert in effect for Cook County until midnight

An air quality alert has been issued for Cook County by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) until midnight tonight. The Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability (DES) encourages residents to remain aware of local air quality by subscribing to AlertCook, the County’s text message alert system, and by visiting and entering their zip code or city to get the most up-to-date air quality information.

To subscribe to AlertCook, text “alertcook” to 888-777. In addition to air quality alerts, subscribers receive severe weather and other emergency notifications. reports air quality using the official U.S. Air Quality Index (AQI), a color-coded index designed to communicate whether air quality is healthy or unhealthy. Air quality forecasts are typically issued the afternoon prior but may be updated throughout the day if conditions warrant. 

While anyone can experience negative impacts from exposure to air pollution, adults 65 and older, pregnant people, children and teens and people with lung and heart conditions are sensitive groups who may be more likely to be impacted if they breathe air with a higher AQI value.

When AQI values are higher, residents in sensitive groups should avoid outdoor activities until air quality improves. Everyone else should avoid long or intense activities outdoors. Residents should use this guidance to protect their pets’ health as well.

Symptoms from breathing unhealthy air include wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Residents with asthma should follow their asthma control action plans or contact their health care provider if they experience symptoms. Those with heart disease who experience these symptoms should contact their health care provider.

County residents can minimize use of items that increase pollution, such as cars, gas powered lawn mowers and other vehicles. Taking the bus, carpooling, telecommuting, biking or walking when safe can help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. Residents can also reduce exposure to air pollution by avoiding drive-thru facilities or other situations where vehicles idle for an extended period of time.



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