As the communities in the Northeast brace for unhealthy air pollution levels this summer, The American Lung Association has released an edgy public service advertising (PSA) campaign featuring provocative television, online and out-of-home components to encourage people to download the charity’s new State of the Air® smartphone application, a valuable resource for people living with lung disease like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), people with heart disease or diabetes, as well as older adults and children.
“Air pollution threatens the health of millions in the Northeast alone. With these increased summer temperatures, comes the increased threat of hazardous levels of ozone pollution,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We are excited to be able to provide this innovative tool so those with lung disease, and without, can effectively monitor their local air quality and limit their exposure to dangerous levels of pollution.”
Despite continued improvements in air quality, unhealthy levels of air pollution still exist in communities across the country. According to the Lung Association’s State of the Air 2012 report released in April, more than 127.2 million people live in U.S. counties with dangerous levels of ozone or particle pollution, the two most widespread air pollutants.
The State of the Air app enables users to enter their zip code or use the geo-locator function to get current air quality conditions and the next-day air quality forecast. The app tracks levels of both ozone and particle pollution, and pushes out alerts if local air quality is code orange- unhealthy for sensitive groups - or worse. Depending on the severity of the day’s air pollution, the app will provide vital health recommendations – advising that outdoor activities should be rescheduled or that people who work outdoors should limit extended or heavy exertion.
American Lung Association supporters tend to skew older, and although the “Breathe Smarter” PSA campaign is targeted to a younger demographic (individuals between the ages of 18 and 40) the app is a valuable tool for all age groups with smart phones. Both the campaign and the app were developed by Red Deluxe in Memphis, Tennessee. The campaign includes television, online and out-of-home PSAs that promote the app as a valuable health resource to individuals, especially those at most risk from breathing unhealthy air.
The television/online PSAs feature a fictional “air collector” named Alvin Grimes, who is incredibly passionate about his love of air. He loves air so much he takes samples in glass jars from everywhere he visits and even from his own backyard. Alvin’s character is meant to be quirky and endearing as evidenced by his passion for the air and all things air-related, e.g. dirigibles, sailboats, balloons, pinwheels, etc.
Alvin has his own Facebook and Twitter accounts where he will post and tweet about air. The television PSAs include :10, :15, :30 and :60 second formats. There are four additional online videos that will be available on Alvin’s YouTube page that are varied in length. Find Alvin online at: facebook.com/theaircollector; twitter.com/theaircollector; youtube.com/theaircollector.
Heat and sunlight mixed with the pollution from tailpipes, smokestacks and other sources create ozone: the most widespread air pollutant, which can cause health problems like wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and even premature death.
“More than 40 percent of people in the United States live in areas where air pollution continues to threaten their health,” according to Norman H. Edelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for the American Lung Association. “The State of the Air app is especially valuable warmer weather, when ozone pollution peaks in many cities with long hot sunny days.”
Whether the air is code green, “good,” or code red, “unhealthy,” the app allows users to share their local air quality via email, Facebook or Twitter. The app also provides users with the opportunity to sign up to receive information from the American Lung Association on topics of particular interest to them. Users can also send an email to members of Congress through the app’s “speak up” function, which includes a template letter supporting the Clean Air Act.
This air quality information is based on data made available to the public by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The American Lung Association app is available for Apple in iTunes and for Android in Google Play or at www.lung.org/stateoftheairapp.
For more information on the State of the Air app, please contact Carrie Martin Munk at Carrie.Martin@Lung.org, or (202) 715-3461.