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AQI Particle Count

In the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, we have had Air Quality Index (AQI) counts in the 150s and above for the past few days. This winter, I have finally learned what an impact particle counts have on my daily health.

After being diagnosed with adult-onset asthma a few years ago, I understood that during certain times in the spring, summer and fall, it is best if I stay indoors. I learned to watch the AQI during pollen season and the occasional pollution warning, but I naïvely believed that the crisp winter air was just fine. I know that many of us get asthma symptoms triggered by cold air, but this isn’t a problem for me. Besides, it isn’t like all my neighbors are burning wood or coal every morning!

It really hit home around Thanksgiving. I’ve been trying to get more hiking in this winter for exercise. Nothing spectacular, just stomping along the snowy sidewalks, using a walking stick for support. After about 2 days on 30-40 minute hikes, I was really feeling lousy: run-down, wheezy, scratchy throat, shortness of breath, body aches, and my arthritis was flaring up. I happened to check my digital HVAC controls for something else and saw that the outdoor AQI was way up!

I suppose everyone’s particle count tolerance is different, but I now know that if it starts getting into the 70s, I’d better either gear up with a proper N95 NIOSH-approved mask or stay in. I hate it, but there are so many things I want or have to do outside, squinting through foggy glasses from the mask, or not wearing glasses and feeling my way blind, but I can’t be limping around, either. Someone in my area has a sensor reporting to, so I check that regularly, and plan my activities accordingly.

I’m curious to know if others have a particular AQI that they can really feel the air getting crunchy.

Thanks for reading.

  1. Hi again dilrod, and thank you for posting this, about Air Quality Index (AQI), in our forums section. It's an excellent topic!
    While I'm hopeful others in the community will see your inquiry and chime in by sharing their own anecdotal experiences with AQI, I thought you might be interested to know this particular topic has been a topic of conversation right here on our community website.
    Should you be interested in reading some of the other conversations related to AQI, this link will direct you to several of the articles in which the topic is discussed: I do hope you find the information makes for interesting reading.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator

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