Air Pollution and Lung Health

The air we breath can have a direct correlation to the health of our lungs. Even people that are considered to be healthy can experience health issues due to air pollutants. These pollutants can lead to respiratory irritations and even difficulties while breathing during outdoor exercise or everyday outdoor activities.

Developing a Health Issue Due to Pollutants
The risk of developing one of these adverse effects really depends on what is polluting the air and its concentration, the current status of your health, and how long you are exposed to the bad air. High levels of air pollutants can cause health problems like stress to your heart or lungs (making them work harder to get the body the oxygen it needs), damaged cells, and aggravated cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses immediately. Exposure to air pollutants over a long period of time can cause permanent damage and health effects like the loss of lung capacity and function accelerated lung aging, and even a shortened life.
Those that are most likely to develop a severe health problem due to air pollutants are those with heart diseases (including congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease), those with lung diseases and disorders (like COPD), young children (14 years or younger), elderly adults, pregnant women, and those that work, exercise, or spend lots of time outdoors regularly.

Protecting Yourself and Those You Love
It is very important to protect yourself and your loved ones against the dangers of air pollutants. Here are some effective and easy to keep you and yours safe:

  • Check Forecasts — Watch for reports for heightened air pollution days and heed all warnings. You can download mobile apps like the State of the Air app from the American Lung Association or check online easily on websites like

  • Limit Outdoor Time — Avoid the outdoors when pollution levels are elevated. If air quality is unhealthy spend time doing things indoors instead.

  • Lower Your Own Emissions — Try to use less energy and lower the number of pollutants you are putting into the air. Like turning your stopped car’s engine off, lowering your thermostat and water heater, replacing filters regularly, etc.

  • Encourage Others to Lower Their Emissions — Discuss with your child’s school to reduce their emissions, like joining the Clean School Bus Campaign.

  • Consider Alternate Methods of Transportation — Organize a carpool for work or your children’s school. Try to use public transportation and walk or ride a bike whenever possible.

  • Avoid High Traffic Areas — Whether the warning levels are high or low, avoid areas that are busy and that have lots of traffic. These busy areas can create a lot of pollution that can negatively affect you.

  • Use Low Emission Tools — Gasoline powered tools can pollute the air immensely. Try using a hand-powered tools or tools that are powered electronically.

  • Avoid Smokers — Do not allow anyone to smoke inside your home, avoid second-hand smoke, and do what you can to make public areas smoke free.

  • No Burn Piles — Avoid burning wood and trash. These fires play a large role in particle pollution in areas around the United States.