Air Pollution and Asthma

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs. It usually results from an allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity.

If you experience shortness of breath or you hear a whistling or wheezy sound in your chest when you breath, you may have asthma. Other asthma symptoms are: coughing, especially at night, during exercising or when laughing; difficulty breathing; chest tightness; shortness of breath; and/or wheezing. Any asthma symptom is serious and can become deadly if left untreated.

Asthma can form by exposure to an allergen (such as ragweed, pollen, animal dander, or dust mites), irritants in the air (smoke, chemical fumes or strong odors), or extreme weather conditions. Exercise or an illness (particularly a respiratory illness or flu) can also make you susceptible.

For more information, visit: https://acaai.org/asthma/symptoms

 Air Pollution

The US EPA defines air pollution as “any visible or invisible particle or gas found in the air that is not part of the natural composition of air.”

Air pollution comes from various different sources, some are man-made and some occur naturally. Air pollution includes gases, smoke from fires, volcanic ash, and dust particles.

Air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms. A study of young people with moderate to severe asthma showed they were more likely to have acute asthma episodes on high pollution summer days than on days with average pollution levels.

To learn more about air pollution, visit: http://www.aafa.org/page/air-pollution-smog-asthma.aspx

 How Air Pollution Affects Asthma

Ozone, which is a gas, is one of the most common air pollutants. Ozone contributes to what we call “smog” or haze. It is more common in cities with more vehicles. It is also more common in places where there is more sunlight and low winds.

Ozone triggers asthma because it irritates the lungs and airways. Ozone concentration is directly related to asthma attacks.

Airborne particles may also trigger your asthma. Small particles in the air can enter your body through your nose or mouth and get into your lungs. Airborne particles, which are found in haze, smoke and airborne dust, cause serious air quality problems. People with asthma are at greater risk from breathing in small particles. The particles can worsen asthma. Both long-term and short-term exposure can cause health problems such as reduced lung function and more frequent asthma attacks.

For more information, visit: http://www.aafa.org/page/air-pollution-smog-asthma.aspx

 Air Pollution & Asthma


Pollutants in the air have the same effect on kids with asthma as other triggers. Effects on airways make them swell and tighten up, and cause breathing problems. Pollutants can also make kids more likely to catch upper respiratory infections (such as colds and flu), which can also bring on asthma symptoms making their lungs more sensitive.

How to help/prevent these problems

To help or prevent these problems you can check the air quality index (AQI) at www.airnow.gov, and that measures the ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. The AQI will vary from season to season, day to day, and even from morning to night.

Other tips for this are on days when the air quality is poor, run the air conditioning and limit time outside. Plan outdoor activities for early in the day when the air quality tends to be better.

For more information, visit: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/ozone-asthma.html