Have you ever heard TV weather forecasters talk about ozone levels? They might say: "Ozone and air pollution levels will be very high." Those levels matter to people who have asthma or other breathing problems. Let's find out why.
Ozone (say: oh-zone) is a gas that is a part of the Earth's atmosphere (say: at-muh-sfeer). The atmosphere is made up of the gases (like oxygen) that surround the Earth, like a shell. Ozone that is found 10 to 30 miles (16 to 48 kilometers) above the Earth protects us from the sun.
But the ozone that is closer to the ground pollutes the air and is the main ingredient in smog. This ozone is created when the exhaust given off by cars, power plants, and factories mixes with sunlight. That's why ozone tends to be higher in sunny places or during hot, still weather.
Particle pollution (say: par-tih-kul puh-loo-shun) also makes the air dirty. Particle pollution is created when tiny bits of dust, dirt, smoke, soot, chemicals from factories, and droplets from aerosol (say: ar-uh-sol) cans hang in the air we breathe. The smaller the particles, the deeper they can get into the lungs.
Low-lying ozone and other things that pollute the air can cause breathing problems for anyone, even if they have healthy lungs.
As you have probably guessed, people with asthma have an even tougher time dealing with air pollution. The airways (the breathing tubes in the lungs) of someone who has asthma are already swollen and may contain lots of mucus.
In fact, when ozone and other air pollution levels are high, more people with asthma end up at the hospital.
If you find that air pollution worsens your asthma, ask your mom or dad to keep an eye on the weather report for you. On days when the air pollution level is high, run the air conditioning. If you plan to be outside, do it early in the day. The rest of the time, stay inside. And avoid places where there is a lot of traffic.
If you play a sport that has outside practices during hot weather, talk to the coach about what you can do to stay out of dirty air. This may mean you need to work out in an air-conditioned gym or miss some practices. If you do end up working out, inside or out, make sure that you have your rescue medications with you.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: October 2010
|American Lung Association The mission of this group is to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Contact the group at: American Lung Association|
61 Broadway, 6th Floor
NY, NY 10006
|AAAAI Just for Kids This Just for Kids page from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology offers lots of fun activities to help you learn about managing your allergies and asthma.|
|AIRNow A cross-agency U.S. government website, AIRNow provides useful air quality information, including daily Air Quality Index forecasts and details on conditions in more than 300 U.S. cities.|
|Traveling and Asthma Packing your bag for a trip? If you have asthma, you'll want to be prepared so breathing trouble doesn't spoil your fun. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Can the Weather Affect My Asthma? Weather can affect a person's asthma. Find out how in this article for kids.|
|Dealing With Asthma Triggers Don't pull that asthma trigger! If you have asthma, certain things may cause you to cough and have trouble breathing. Find out more about asthma triggers in this article for kids.|
|Asthma Asthma is a condition that affects a person's airways, also known as breathing tubes. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Asthma Movie Take a sneak peak inside a person's lungs when asthma is making it hard to breathe.|
|Asthma Center Asthma means breathing problems. Find out what's going on in the lungs and how to stay healthy, if you have it.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.