Asthma and Outdoor Air Quality
2009 | Download
Outdoor air pollution is a serious problem in most urban areas as well as in many rural areas of the United States. Nearly all Californians (about 99 percent) live in areas that fail to meet the state’s health-based ozone and/or particulate matter standards.
However, this problem affects low-income and minority communities disproportionately because these groups tend to live in the areas where air pollution is worst. Air pollution can have long-term effects on our health and can contribute to the development of asthma, respiratory tract infections, and lung cancer.
Each year premature deaths, hospital admissions, respiratory illnesses, and school and work absences caused by the effects of ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) at levels above federal air-quality standards in the San Joaquin Valley and South Coast Air Basin (including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange Counties) cost California an estimated $28 billion.
Despite gains in air quality in the past decade, the associated costs remain high, and many vulnerable populations are not adequately protected. This is especially true for children, whose developing lungs are more sensitive to the harmful effects of outdoor air pollution than those of adults.
Created by PHI's Regional Asthma Management and Prevention program, this fact sheet explores:
- What are the major outdoor air pollutants affecting asthma, and where do they come from?
- What role does air pollution play in childhood asthma?
- What can be done about outdoor air pollution?