Why is outdoor air a concern?
Outdoor air provides humans with oxygen, which is essential to human life. But the outdoor air we breathe can be polluted with chemicals from vehicles, electric power plants, incinerators, and other sources. Air pollution can also come from natural sources such as forest fires, industrial sources such as chemical plants and factories, and smaller sources such as dry cleaners and gas stations.
Air pollution can cause many harmful health effects, including asthma, heart disease, and cancer. Some air pollutants can be more harmful to human health than others. Some people, especially children and the elderly, are more vulnerable to the health effects of air pollution than others. Common air pollutants include ozone, which can cause asthma and respiratory problems; particulate matter, which can cause lung damage; sulfur dioxide, which can cause breathing problems; and volatile organic compounds, which can cause cancer.
Hazardous air pollutants are known or suspected to cause cancer, reproductive problems, birth defects, or other serious health effects. They are also called air toxics, or toxic air pollutants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to reduce the amounts of 188 toxic air pollutants, including asbestos, benzene, mercury, perchloroethylene, and toluene.
Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Air Info Now Activities: Recipe for Ozone; Lung Attack; CO City (University of Arizona)
Air Quality Where You Live (Environmental Protection Agency)
Air Trends - Basic Information (Environmental Protection Agency)
Air Trends home page (Environmental Protection Agency)
AirCompare (Environmental Protection Agency)
Outdoor Air Pollution (National Library of Medicine)
Radionuclides in Air (Environmental Protection Agency)
Taking Toxics Out of the Air (Environmental Protection Agency)
Wildfires (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Chemicals in the Air
Are these chemicals in MY environment?
Volatile Organic Compounds
Last Updated: December 09, 2008