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Health Library : Environmental Medicine

 

Air Pollution

What is air pollution?

Air pollution is the presence of noxious substances in the air that we breathe. National agencies and organizations report the following:

  • Over 100 million tons of pollution is emitted into the atmosphere in the U.S. each year. Examples of such pollutants include sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, mercury, and nitrogen dioxide. (EPA)
  • According to the 2011 State of the Air report, more than 130 million Americans live in areas of unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution. (American Lung Association)

The health effects of air pollution are numerous. Air pollution levels are associated with increased respiratory health problems, including asthma. According to Healthy People 2020, which identifies 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans, air pollution is linked to premature death, cancer, and long-term damage to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Preventing air pollution is a major project of public health and environmental agencies.

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