Outdoor sports support an active and healthy lifestyle, except on days with poor air quality.
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Source: T. Eastburn

Air Pollution and Human Health

People have no choice but to breathe the air around them. When it is polluted, they breathe in ozone, particles and harmful gases that can hurt their lungs, heart, and overall health. Air pollution can cause coughing, burning eyes, and breathing problems. Fortunately, people usually start to feel better as soon as the air quality improves, but not always.

63 people died in Belgium in 1930, 20 people died in Pennsylvania in 1948, and more than 4,000 died in London in 1952 as a result of severe air pollution. Breathing small amounts of air pollution over many years is also considered dangerous. It may even contribute to life-threatening diseases such as cancer.

The elderly, the young, and those with cardiopulmonary disease, such as asthma or severe bronchitis, are the most vulnerable to air pollution exposure. Children are at greater risk because their lungs are still growing. Also, they play outside and are active. As a result, pound for pound they breathe more outdoor air pollution than most adults.

Although people have no choice but to breathe the air around them, they do have choices that can help them stay healthy. They can choose to stay indoors or be less active on poor air quality days. They can avoid high-traffic and highly industrialized areas whenever possible. They can also choose to support collective efforts and take individual steps that reduce air pollution. Such actions are a positive response to a problem that can literally steal one’s breath away.

Last modified February 19, 2006 by Teri Eastburn.

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