LEONARDTOWN, MD (June 9, 2023) – The Maryland Department of the Environment has issued a Code Orange Air Quality Alert for Southern Maryland, urging residents to take precautions due to poor air quality. The alert particularly emphasizes the need for sensitive groups, including individuals with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and pregnant individuals, to avoid prolonged or intense outdoor activities. In response, the St. Mary’s County Health Department has issued recommendations to limit exposure to unhealthy air and protect community members’ health.

During poor air quality, individuals are advised to limit strenuous outdoor activities, especially when the air quality is deemed unhealthy to breathe. Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer, emphasized the importance of reducing exposure to outdoor air pollution, particularly for vulnerable populations. She recommended using KN95 or N95 masks to help filter the air and reduce the particles that individuals breathe in.

To assist community members, the St. Mary’s County Library provides free KN95 masks at its three locations while supplies last. These masks can be especially beneficial for more vulnerable populations, such as those with pre-existing health conditions. The St. Mary’s County Health Department also advises against bringing outdoor air into indoor spaces through ventilation systems and suggests using air filtration units with particle removers, if available.

Considering the potential health risks associated with poor air quality, individuals must limit their time outdoors, particularly during periods of exertional activity. This precautionary measure is significant for vulnerable populations. Dr. Brewster emphasized the need for everyone to prioritize their health by avoiding strenuous outdoor activities when the air quality is compromised.

For real-time local outdoor air quality data and further information on recommended protective health actions, community members can access the Purple Air Sensor map on the St. Mary’s County Health Department Air Quality Dashboard at smchd.org/breathewell. This resource will provide up-to-date information to help individuals make informed decisions regarding their outdoor activities.

The Code Orange Air Quality Alert reminds residents to take necessary precautions and prioritize their health during periods of poor air quality. By following the recommendations the St. Mary’s County Health Department provides, community members can reduce their exposure to harmful pollutants and minimize the potential health risks associated with compromised air quality.

Individuals with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and pregnant individuals must be particularly vigilant in protecting their health and well-being. By staying informed and taking appropriate measures, residents of Southern Maryland can mitigate the impact of poor air quality and ensure a safer environment for themselves and their communities.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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