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Am I at Risk?
Many studies show links between air pollution and health effects. Air pollution has been linked to asthma attacks, decreased lung function and heart attacks. Several groups are sensitive to poor air quality, especially when outdoors, since physical activity causes people to breathe faster and more deeply.

- Active children are at the highest risk because they play outdoors during the summer. Children with asthma are at an even higher risk.

- The elderly are at high risk because they may have undiagnosed heart disease, lung disease or diabetes.

- Active adults of all ages who exercise or work vigorously outdoors have a higher level of exposure than those less active.

- People with asthma or other respiratory diseases are more vulnerable to the effects of poor air. People with these conditions will generally experience health effects earlier and at lower ozone levels than less sensitive people.

- People with heart or lung disease are at an increased risk because particles can aggravate these conditions. People with diabetes are also at an increased risk.

- People with unusual susceptibility to ozone or particulate matter may also experience health effects at more moderate levels of outdoor exertion or at lower levels than the average person.

What are the Effects
Your respiratory system can become irritated, causing you to cough, feel irritation in your throat, or experience an uncomfortable sensation in your chest.

Lung function can be decreased, making it more difficult to breathe as deeply and vigorously as you normally would. Breathing may start to feel uncomfortable, and you may notice you are taking more rapid and shallow breaths than normal.

Asthma can be aggravated. High levels of ozone or fine particles cause those with asthma to have attacks that require a doctor’s attention or the use of additional medication. High levels of air pollution can also make people more sensitive to allergens, which are common triggers for asthma attacks. Asthmatics are more severely affected by the irritation that ozone causes in the respiratory system.

Chronic lung diseases may also become aggravated such as emphysema and bronchitis. The immune system’s ability to fight off bacterial infections in the respiratory system may also become weakened.

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