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City Officials Advise Precautions During Periods of Poor Air Quality

For Immediate Release: 6/8/2023 4:41 pm

Throughout the summer and wildfire season, local air quality will be at risk of surpassing unhealthy levels. State and federal agencies continually monitor air quality for pollution and potential health impacts. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has established an Air Quality Index (AQI) that measures concentrations of pollutants in the air based on public health standards.

The latest AQI in Worcester can be found at and MassAir, and air quality alerts may be issued by state or federal entities. City officials advise residents to follow all necessary precautions, which are outlined in detail below based on the current AQI. Individuals with pre-existing conditions and older and younger adults are at elevated risk.

General safety tips for poor air quality:

  • Limit outdoor activity and seek shelter indoors with well-filtered air
  • Wear a well-fitting N95 mask during prolonged periods of outdoor activity
  • Monitor for symptoms including headaches, irritated eyes/sinuses/throat, fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest pains/asthma attacks, and increased coughing
  • Keep pets indoors

AQI 0 – 50 (Good/Green)

Air quality is satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk. No extra precautions necessary.

AQI 51 – 100 (Moderate/Yellow)

Air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution and who should consider making outdoor activities shorter and less intense. Watch for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath, which are signs to take it easier.

AQI 101 – 150 (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups/Orange)

Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects, although the general public is less likely to be affected. Sensitive groups include people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and teenagers, minority populations, and outdoor workers.

Sensitive groups: Make outdoor activities shorter and less intense. It’s OK to be active outdoors, but take more breaks. Watch for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath.

People with asthma: Follow your asthma action plan and keep quick relief medicine handy.
People with heart disease: Symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, or unusual fatigue may indicate a serious problem. If you have any of these, contact your health care provider.

AQI 151 – 200 (Unhealthy/Red)

Some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects. Reduce long or intense activities, and take more breaks during outdoor activities.

Sensitive groups: Avoid long or intense outdoor activities. Consider rescheduling or moving activities indoors.

AQI 201 – 300 (Very Unhealthy/Purple)

Health alert: The risk of health effects is increased for everyone. Long or intense activities should be avoided, and outdoor activities should be rescheduled or moved indoors.

Sensitive groups: Avoid all physical activity outdoors. Reschedule to a time when air quality is better or move activities indoors.

AQI 301 – 500 (Hazardous/Maroon)

Health warning of emergency conditions: everyone is more likely to be affected and should avoid all physical activity outdoors.

Sensitive groups: Remain indoors and keep activity levels low. Follow tips for keeping particle levels low indoors.

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Worcester 311
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Phone: 311
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