The Link

More than 22 million Americans suffer from asthma symptoms, and statistics reveal that the rate of people affected is rising faster than any other disease today. If you fall into this group, the quality of the air you breathe may be one of the triggers that make you cough and wheeze.

According to the experts, a predisposition to asthma is usually hereditary, but environmental factors can often cause the symptoms to flare. This means that when you breathe in polluted air, the tiny particles can get into your lungs and irritate the lining. Even people without asthma may find their lung capacity decreases and their respiratory problems increase when they spend lots of time outdoors breathing in polluted air. But for people with asthma, the consequences are magnified.

What is Air Pollution?

Pollution can refer to a variety of substances, including ozone, aerosol drops and bits of smoke, soot, dust, dirt and acids that are contained in the air. And the amount of these pollutants that you come into contact with can vary a great deal depending on where you live.

It makes sense, then, that if you live in a big city that is highly populated and has lots of traffic that there will be more cases of air pollution and asthma. Statistics seem to confirm this fact. Some reports estimate that nearly two-thirds of people with asthma in the U.S. live in areas where at least one measure of air quality doesn't meet the national standards. And children are at highest risk to suffer as a result of poor air. In fact, hospital admissions in New York City of children with asthma are twice as high as the national average.

Take Action

If you are worried about asthma and air pollution, you may wonder what you can do about it. First, you should pay attention to the air quality before you head outside. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an Air Quality Index that measures the air quality and alerts people to stay indoors on days when pollutants are especially high. You can find this information each day through you're the weather reports of your local newspaper, radio and television stations, or go to to check on conditions.

You can also plan outdoor activities for the morning, since air pollution seems to worsen throughout the day.  Further, it's a good idea to steer clear of places where traffic is high, since conditions can be worse in these areas and can trigger asthma symptoms. And carry your fast-acting relief inhaler with you at all times, in case you experience an asthma and air pollution reaction.

In addition to these small steps that may help you to manage your symptoms, you can also help you to change things on a larger level by helping to reduce traffic and air pollution. You can take public transportation to work or carpool, and avoid using aerosol products and paints and solvents that give off fumes that can pollute the air. By educating yourself about environment concerns, you can help make a difference and reduce asthma and air pollution.