10 Tips to Protect Yourself from Unhealthy Air
The American Lung Association encourages everyone to get involved in the fight for cleaner, healthier air. Here are some simple, effective tips for protecting you and your family from the dangers of air pollution:
- Check daily air pollution forecasts in your area. The color-coded forecasts can let you know when the air is unhealthy in your community. Sources include local radio and TV weather reports, newspapers and online at airnow.gov.
- Avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high. When the air is bad, walk indoors in a shopping mall or gym or use an exercise machine. Limit the amount of time your child spends playing outdoors if the air quality is unhealthy.
- Always avoid exercising near high-traffic areas. Even when air quality forecasts are green, the vehicles on busy highways can create high pollution levels up to one-third a mile away.
- Use less energy in your home. Generating electricity and other sources of energy creates air pollution. By reducing energy use, you can help improve air quality, curb greenhouse gas emissions, encourage energy independence and save money! Check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's easy tips for conserving energy at home.
- Encourage your child's school to reduce exposure to school bus emissions. To keep exhaust levels down, schools should not allow school buses to idle outside of their buildings. Many school systems are using the U.S. EPA's Clean School Bus Campaign to clean up these dirty emissions.
- Walk, bike or carpool. Combine trips. Use buses, subways, light rail systems, commuter trains or other alternatives to driving your car.
- Don't burn wood or trash. Burning firewood and trash are among the major sources of particle pollution (soot) in many parts of the country.
- Use hand-powered or electric lawn care equipment rather than gasoline-powered. Old two-stroke engines like lawnmowers and leaf or snow blowers often have no pollution control devices. They can pollute the air even more than cars, though engines sold since 2011 are cleaner.
- Don't allow anyone to smoke indoors and support measures to make all public places tobacco-free.
- Get involved. Start by checking out Fighting For Air which has more information about what you can do.
Bottom line: Help yourself and everyone else breathe easier. Support national, state and local efforts to clean up sources of pollution. Your life and the life of someone you love may depend on it.
Want to do even more?
Tell Congress to support the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act. This act would help provide health professionals and communities with the data, resources and best practices they need to plan for and address the health impacts of climate change.
Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 8, 2017.
Page Last Updated: July 9, 2019
Sign up for the latest lung health news delivered right to your inbox.
Join more than 500,000 people who receive research updates, inspiring stories, health information and more.