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Air Quality...
It's the quality of the air you're breathing…EVERYDAY

Click to go to Catawba County Public Health home page
Phone: (828) 695-5800
FAX: (828) 695-5104

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map 3070 11th Ave Dr. SE
Hickory, NC 28602

Business Hours*
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday - Friday

*Individual clinic hours may vary. Please visit each service specific page to view those hours.

  • Click to go to Air Quality Forecast Center for Ozone and Particulate Matter Forecasts

    Did you know?

    • The average adult breathes over 3,000 gallons of air a day
    • Up to 70% of air pollution is caused by cars and trucks
    • Air Pollution causes shortness of breath and reduces lung function, even in healthy adults
    • One out of every three people exposed to air pollution is at a higher risk of experiencing health-related effects
    • Ozone and Particulate Matter (PM) are the two major pollutants in Catawba County.

    What Is Ozone?

    • A colorless gas found in the air we breathe
    • Referred to as smog
    • Formed when air pollutants "bake" in the hot, summer sun
    • Comes from cars and industries
    • When ozone levels are high, the following factors are usually in place: sunshine; clear sky; temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit; little or no wind
    • Unhealthy levels usually occur between Noon and 6 p.m. from May through September.
    • Ground-level ozone is a major summertime air pollutant

    What is Particulate Matter?

    • A complex mixture of extremely small particles
      and liquid droplets
    • PM can be emitted directly or formed in the air from gases
    • Comes from cars, trucks, buses, factories, construction sites, tilled fields, unpaved roads, stone crushing, and wood burning
    • Can be a problem any time of the year and any time of the day or night.
    • The major source of haze that reduces visibility in many areas, including parks

    What are the health effects of Ozone?

    • Aggravates asthma
    • Reduces lung function
    • Lowers resistance to allergens, infections and respiratory diseases such as pneumonia
    • Causes shortness of breath, pain with deep inhalation, coughing and wheezing, headaches, nausea and eye and throat irritation

    What are the environmental and health effects of Particulate Matter?

    • Fine particles penetrate deeper into the lungs
    • Exposure can lead to premature death and aggravation of heart and lung disease
    • Increased hospital admissions and doctor and ER visits
    • Absences from work and school
    • May be a link to lung cancer deaths, infant mortality and developmental problems
    • Settles on soil and water and harms the environment by changing the nutrient and chemical balance
    • Causes erosion and staining of structures including culturally important objects such as monuments and statues

    Who is most sensitive to health effects of Ozone and Particulate Matter?

    • Children
    • People with asthma or pre-existing lung problems
    • Healthy adults who engage in physical exercise outdoors
    • Healthy adults who engage in manual labor outdoors

    What can be done about Ozone?

    • Conserve energy
    • Avoid spilling fuel and topping off the tank
    • Keep engines tuned
    • Keep tires properly inflated
    • Carpool
    • Refuel after 6pm
    • Mow lawns after 6pm

    What can be done about Particulate Matter?

    • Don't burn trash or yard waste
    • Exercise less strenuously on high particulates days
    • Avoid busy roads and fires
    • Avoid indoor particulates by not smoking indoors
    • Limit use of candles, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces

    Where can you find more information on Ozone and Particulate Matter?

    • Look for the forecast in your local TV, radio or newspaper
    • Ozone is forecast April - October
    • Particulate Matter is forecast all year around
    • Call Catawba County Public Health at 695-5800 or check the county website at
    • Call 1-888-RU4NCAIR or check out the state website at
    • • Subscribe to e-mail or text forecast notifications at

    What can you do to protect you and your family from air pollution?

    • Be aware of the ozone and particulate matter forecasts
    • Alert those most susceptible to high levels to limit outdoor activities and stay indoors on "bad air" days
    • Know the air quality color codes - the recommended actions and health effects (see chart on below)
    • Take steps to protect your health and environment

    What is an Air Quality Action Day?

    • When pollution levels are forecasted to be Code Orange, Red or Purple (levels above the Federal health standard)
    • Citizens are asked to take ACTION to reduce air pollution and to protect their health
    • Care for the Air
      • Drive less: carpool, vanpool, take the bus, telecommute.
      • Conserve electricity.
      • Pack a lunch or walk to lunch.
      • Avoid idling your vehicle.
      • Refuel and mow after 6:00pm.
    • From April 1 through October 31, most Air Quality Action Days will be for ozone, although a few code orange particulate days may occur during this period.
    • From November 1 - March 31, Air Quality Action Days during this period should only be for particles.

    Air Quality Color Code

    Good (Green) No health effects expected
    Moderate (Yellow) Unusually sensitive people: consider limiting outdoor activity
    Unhealthy for sensitive groups (Orange) Children, active people, and those with respiratory or heart disease: limit outdoor activity
    Unhealthy (Red) Everyone: limit or avoid outdoor activity
    Very unhealthy (Purple) Everyone: avoid outdoor activity

    Click on this link for the NC Air Quality Forecast Center for Hickory and other areas:

    Click on this link for information on the Air Quality Color Guide and Facts you should know about air quality:

    Click on this link to sign up for EnvironFlash Air Quality Forecasts:

    Click on this link for even more air quality information:


    Air Awareness graphic