Monday, August 1, 2011

Air Pollution Action Day Alert Issued for Chicago Area

Stay Indoors, Use Air Conditioning, Gottlieb Allergist Warns

MELROSE PARK, Ill. – In addition to the “Monday back-to-work blues,” trouble breathing, fatigue, headaches and congestion may be what many Chicagoans experience today due to toxic air quality. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has declared an air pollution action day for today, Aug. 1, for the greater Chicago metropolitan area. “In addition to the extreme heat and humidity causing the heat index to be well over 100 degrees, widespread ozone and particulate levels are expected to be at or above unhealthy levels for those with sensitive respiratory systems,” said Dr. Joseph Leija, an allergist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of the Loyola University Health System. Dr. Leija performs the official daily Midwest allergy count for the National Allergy Bureau from April through October, allergy-reporting season. “Chicago and the Midwest have been plagued with heavy rain and extreme heat that have created toxic levels of mold, which has created stressful breathing conditions for many. This may be the final straw for many sufferers,” said Dr. Leija, who issued a high mold alert on Thursday for the entire Midwest. Ozone is a gas that becomes toxic when it reaches the lower atmosphere. “Ozone exposure produces headaches, burning eyes and irritation to the respiratory passages,” Dr. Leija said. “Even low concentrations of ozone in air are destructive to many plants, animals and, of course, people.” Dr. Leija’s tips for protecting your health today include: * Stay indoors and avoid outdoor activity. * Run air conditioning to remove humidity. * Rinse inner nostrils with a saline solution to wash out trapped particles and moisten membranes. * Avoid strenuous activity and rest often. * Talk to your allergist about adjusting prescribed medication, if necessary.

“Thousands of Chicagoans are at risk today,” Dr. Leija warned. An estimated 20 million Americans, or 1 in 15, have been diagnosed with asthma, a chronic breathing condition. Every year nearly 361,000 Americans die of lung disease, which is the No. 3 killer in America, responsible for 1in 7 deaths. For more than two decades, Dr. Leija has performed the Gottlieb Allergy Count. At 5 a.m. Monday through Friday he gathers air samples from a special pollen-catching machine atop Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park. Using his microscope, Dr. Leija identifies and counts every single allergen in a process that can take more than one hour. He then uses National Allergy Bureau-dictated algorithms to arrive at the official allergy count for the Midwest. The National Allergy Bureau incorporates Dr. Leija’s data into its daily reports. It is available on the Gottlieb Web site at and in English, Spanish and Polish via Twitter. The count is also available in English by calling 866-4-POLLEN (866-476-5536).

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.