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Asthma

Asthma Triggers: Gain Control

Outdoor Air Pollution

picture of smog over a city depicting asthma trigger - outdoor air pollution

About outdoor air pollution and asthma

Outdoor air pollution is caused by small particles and ground level ozone that comes from car exhaust, smoke, road dust and factory emissions. Outdoor air quality is also affected by pollen from plants, crops and weeds. Particle pollution can be high any time of year and are higher near busy roads and where people burn wood.

When inhaled, outdoor pollutants and pollen can aggravate the lungs, and can lead to chest pain, coughing, digestive problems, dizziness, fever, lethargy, sneezing, shortness of breath, throat irritation and watery eyes. Outdoor air pollution and pollen may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma.


Actions you can take

  • Monitor the Air Quality Index on your local weather report.
  • Know when and where air pollution may be bad.
  • Regular exercise is healthy. Check your local air quality to know when to play and when to take it a little easier.
  • Schedule outdoor activities at times when the air quality is better. In the summer, this may be in the morning.
  • Stay inside with the windows closed on high pollen days and when pollutants are high.
  • Use your air conditioner to help filter the air coming into the home. Central air systems are the best.
  • Remove indoor plants if they irritate or produce symptoms for you or your family.
  • Pay attention to asthma warning signs. If you start to see signs, limit outdoor activity. Be sure to talk about this with your child's doctor.

Additional resources

Burnwise: Learn Before You Burn


Why is Coco Orange? (PDF) (19 pp., 1.35 M, about PDF)
A picture book for children with asthma and their caretakers.
Asthma and Outdoor Air Pollution Flyer (PDF) (2 pp., 503 K)
[EPA-452-F-04-002]
The EnviroFlash website provides air quality information such as forecasts and action day notifications via email for your area of interest.

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