Problems with Pollution


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Problems with Pollution

October 15, 2014


What is air pollution?

Air pollution is a mixture of particles and gases in the ambient air  which have been associated with adverse health effects.


Can pollution cause asthma?

It is unclear if pollution actually causes asthma.  However, air pollution can definitely worsen asthma.  In fact, respiratory deaths have been linked to pollution and air quality.


If I have asthma, should I stay indoors to get away from pollution?

The answer to this is definitely “no”.  Though outdoor air pollution is a big problem in major urban centers that are exposed to large quantities of fossil fuel combustion, most Americans are also significantly affected by “indoor pollution”.


What is indoor pollution?

In addition to household chemicals and tobacco smoke, indoor allergens such as pets, dust mites, and molds can make asthma worse.  Also, with our energy efficient homes and wall to wall carpeting, we often have very high exposures to these pollutants.


What are some other health effects of pollution?

There are many potential pollutants.  In fact there are too many to list. However, there are six pollutants about which we know a little more.


What can I do to protect myself against pollution?

Get your water tested for lead and make sure you have lead free paint in your home.

If you live in a major urban area, you may want to stay indoors on “Pollution Alert” days.

Talk to your allergist about how to reduce the amount of indoor allergens in the home.

Keep your filters on your heating/cooling system clean.

Consider using a HEPA filter.

Consider keeping indoor flowering/ornamental plants in the home.



Potential Health effect


reduction in lung function, respiratory inflammation

sulfur dioxide

respiratory problems, contributes to acid rain

carbon monoxide

visual impairment, neurologic problems, reduced oxygen delivery to tissues

nitrogen dioxide

contributes to ozone production, contributes to acid rain and reduction of the amount of oxygen in water


anemia, kidney disease, reproductive disorders, neurological impairments, and possibly


particulate matter

respiratory problems



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