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State of America's Air? Potentially Dangerous

More Than Half of Americans Live in Areas With Unhealthy Air Pollution

Reducing Air Pollution Risks

Researchers say although ozone and particle pollution can threaten anyone's health over the long term, certain groups of people face greater health risks, including:

  • Children
  • Elderly

  • People with breathing problems, such as asthma or lung disease

  • People with heart disease

  • Adults who are active outdoors, such as outdoor workers or exercisers

These groups may be the first to feel the effects of air pollution and should take extra steps to protect themselves. Those measures include:

  • Check the daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts. Many weather reports include this information, and they are also available online at www.epa.gov/airnow.
  • Be aware of smog levels during hot weather. Ozone smog peaks during the spring and summer months from May to October.

  • If the day's ozone level is unhealthy, adjust activities for the day to reduce exposure to outdoor air. Avoid vigorous activity outdoors or plan the most strenuous activity early in the morning before ozone levels climb.

  • If the day's particle pollution levels are high, adjust the day's plan to stay away from high-traffic areas and avoid exercising in these areas.

  • Take steps to reduce particle pollution at home, such as eliminate smoking indoors, vent all gas or other combustion appliances directly to the outdoors, and do not burn wood.

Healthy persons can also help fight the effects of ozone pollution by filling up the gas tank after dusk on hot summer days since gasoline vapors react with sunlight, and using public transportation when possible, especially on high ozone or "ozone alert" days.

The report was based on air quality measurements made by state and local agencies and reported to the Environmental Protection Agency for the years 2000 to 2002. For more information on the report, visit www.lungusa.org.

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