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:

  • About 123 million tons of pollution is emitted into the atmosphere in the US each year. (Environmental Protection Agency)

  • According to the 2009 State of the Air report, more than 175 million Americans live in areas of unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution. (American Lung Association)

The health effects on people because of air pollution are numerous. Air pollution levels are associated with increased respiratory health problems, including asthma. According to the Healthy People 2010 report, each year in the United States:

  • Health costs of human exposure to outdoor air pollutants range from $40 to $50 billion.

  • An estimated 50,000 to 120,000 premature deaths are associated with exposure to air pollutants.

  • Each year, close to 5,000 people die of asthma.

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

Medical Reviewer: [Foster, Sara RN MPH, Jenkins, Lee] Last Annual Review Date: 2011-08-08T00:00:00-06:00 Copyright: Copyright 2007 Staywell Content Services, Inc. except where otherwise noted.