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Climate Change and Air Pollution

Scientists warn that climate change impacts the air we breathe, making it harder to clean up ozone pollution and increasing the risk of particle pollution.

Ground-level Ozone Pollution

Climate change creates conditions, including heat and stagnant air, which increase the risk of unhealthful ozone levels. Ground-level ozone, often called smog, forms in the atmosphere when gases emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes mix in the air. Hotter weather and stagnant air create conditions that make ozone more likely to form.

Even with current measures to reduce ozone, evidence warns that climate change likely will increase ozone levels in large parts of the U.S. To protect human health, the nation needs strong measures to reduce climate change and ozone.

Particle Pollution

Hotter temperatures and lack of rainfall increase the risk of drought and wildfires, both of which create particle pollution. Wildfires have become a major source of extremely high particle levels in places hundreds of miles from the fire itself.  Dust storms may increase as soil dries out and the water table drops.

Even with current measures to reduce particle pollution, these changes have led to increased high particle pollution days with worse levels of pollution in many places in the U.S.

    Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed October 31, 2017.

    Page Last Updated: July 17, 2019

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