Why should we be concerned
about air pollution?
In many U.S. cities, activities such as
driving cars and trucks; burning coal, oil, and other fossil
fuels; and manufacturing chemicals pollute the air we breathe.
Air pollution can even come from smaller, everyday activities
such as dry cleaning, filling your car with gas, and degreasing
and painting operations. These activities add gases and
particles to the air we breathe. When these gases and particles
accumulate in the air in high enough concentrations, they
can harm our health and our environment. Larger populations
in cities and surrounding counties lead to more cars, trucks,
industrial and commercial operations, and generally means
Air pollution is a problem for all of us.
The average adult breathes over 3,000 gallons of air every
day. Children breathe even more air per pound of body weight
and are more susceptible to air pollution. Many air pollutants
remain in the environment for long periods and are carried
by the winds hundreds of miles from their origin. Millions
of people live in areas where ozone,
very small particles
and toxic pollutants pose serious health concerns.
Air pollution can make you sick
People who are exposed to high enough levels
of certain air pollutants may experience burning in their
eyes and nose, an itchy, irritated throat, or breathing
difficulties. Long-term exposure to some toxic chemicals
found in polluted air can cause cancer, birth defects, brain
and nerve damage, and long-term injury to the lungs and
breathing passages, and the immune, neurological, and reproductive
systems. Some air pollutants are so dangerous that accidental
releases can cause serious injury or even death.
People vary in their response to air pollution.
Some people are especially vulnerable to the health effects
of air pollution. These sensitive populations include children,
the elderly and people with heart and respiratory diseases,
such as asthma and bronchitis.