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Protect Yourself From the Health Effects of Air Pollution

air quality, heart disease-indoor air-health condition
air quality, heart disease-indoor air-health condition

Did you know that air pollution can impact your health? In the United States, air pollution causes millions of emergency department visits and thousands of deaths annually.

Audrey Pennington, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Epidemiologist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

When you breathe in polluted air, it ends up in your lungs where it can impact your health. Exposure to air pollution can cause a wide range of symptoms such as trouble breathing, chest pain, and wheezing. Everyone can be affected by it. People who have lung or heart disease, children, pregnant people, and older adults are all at increased risk from the effects of air pollution. Here are five ways to protect your health:

  1. Use the Air Quality Index at to monitor air pollution in your area. Air quality varies based on where you live, and it changes with factors like the weather and season. On days when air quality is low, take steps to protect your health such as spending less time outdoors.
  2. Avoid strenuous exercise outdoors when air quality is poor. When you exercise, you breathe in more air and more pollution. On polluted days, think about exercising indoors instead of outdoors or choosing outdoor activities that are less vigorous, such as walking instead of running.
  3. Limit how much time you spend outside near high-traffic areas. Cars, trucks, and buses are some of the biggest sources of air pollution. Reduce your exposure to pollution by avoiding walking, running, or biking along busy roads, especially during rush hour.
  4. Keep indoor air clear of tobacco smoke, fumes, and chemicals. Most people spend a lot of time indoors, which makes indoor air quality important. When air quality outside is very poor — for example, from wildfire smoke — keep your doors and windows closed and consider using an air purifier.
  5. Talk to your doctor about how to protect yourself, especially if you have a health condition like asthma or heart disease.
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