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Scientific studies have shown that air pollution impacts on human health.  For healthy people, moderate air pollution levels are unlikely to have any serious short term effects. However, exposure to elevated pollutant concentrations and/or long term exposure to air pollution can lead to more serious symptoms and conditions affecting human health. These conditions mainly affect the respiratory and inflammatory systems, but can also lead to more serious conditions such as heart disease and cancer.   

Reduce your exposure

We can all reduce our exposure to air pollution by:

  • When cycling or walking, plan to avoid busy main roads – use quieter side roads and off-road routes if available
  • If you are exercising outside avoid busy roads.
  • Be aware of days when air pollution is high by registering for the Know & Respond service or using our free app for iPhone or Android smartphones.

Advice for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions

asthma inhalers

Those with existing heart or lung conditions are more susceptible to increased health risks associated with air pollution. The Committee of Medical effects of Air Pollution (COMEAP) advises that air pollution can increase the severity of symptoms for those with heart disease or respiratory conditions such as asthma. Adverse health conditions can be experienced during short term high pollution episodes or as a result of long term exposure to poor air quality.

Monitoring and modelling of air quality throughout the UK allows air pollution levels to be forecast. Be prepared by being informed of the air pollution levels in your local area through the use of the Know & Respond service. For people with respiratory conditions, being aware of local air pollution is important and, when required, other additional measures can be undertaken:

  • Avoid exposure - increased air pollution can trigger asthma symptoms, remaining indoors during periods of high air pollution can reduce symptoms.
  • Limit Outdoor Exercise - Limiting outdoor exercise during periods of poor air quality can reduce the strain on the lungs for those who are susceptible to pollutants
  • Keeping inhalers and medication available at all times
  • If the above steps do not help, consult your doctor

For further information about asthma visit Asthma UK.

Further information on Air Quality and Health can be found at: