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Outdoor sports support an active and healthy lifestyle, except on days with poor air quality.
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Source: T. Eastburn

Air Pollution and Human Health

People have to breathe the air around them. When the air is dirty, breathing it can be harmful. Air pollution can cause coughs, burning eyes, and breathing problems. These symptoms often go away as soon as the air quality improves, but not always.

In 1948, 20 people died and 6000 people became ill in Pennsylvania from air pollution. In 1952, a dense smog filled the skies of London and killed 4000 people in five days. Breathing small amounts of air pollution over many years is also considered dangerous. It may even contribute to life-threatening diseases such as cancer.

The elderly, the young, and people who are already sick are more sensitive to air pollution than others. Children’s health is at greater risk because their lungs are still growing. They also play outside more than most adults. As a result, they breathe in more pollution from cars, refineries, factories, fires, and windblown dust.

Although people have to breathe the air around them, they can take actions to keep themselves healthy. They can pay attention to air quality reports. When air quality is poor, they can stay indoors or be less active outside. Such actions can limit exposure to harmful air pollutants that can literally steal one’s breath away.

Last modified February 19, 2006 by Teri Eastburn.

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