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Minimizing the Effects of Outdoor Air Pollution

Everyone is adversely affected by poor air quality; however, individuals who suffer from pulmonary problems are much more sensitive to irritants in the atmosphere. For them, pollutants can cause more severe symptoms, such as chest tightness or cough, along with burning of the eyes and throat.

Here are some tips for helping you avoid exposure to, and complications from, poor outdoor air quality.

Avoid exposure to noxious fumes
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) includes 188 substances on its list of toxic air pollutants, including components found in gasoline, chemicals emitted by dry cleaning facilities, solvents and paint strippers used by numerous industries, and substances like asbestos, dioxin, lead compounds, and mercury. We can’t avoid all of these pollutants all of the time, but there are simple things we can do to minimize our exposure:

  • If you are working on your car in the garage, make sure your garage door is completely open and don’t let exhaust fumes from the garage enter your house.
  • Minimize your exposure to strong chemicals by replacing the lids on solvent containers securely and disposing of saturated rags in a sealed container. Don’t mix any chemical solutions.
  • When painting, use a brush rather than a sprayer.
  • Be careful not to overfill or spill gasoline when filling up your car or lawn and garden equipment. Make sure your equipment is properly maintained.
  • Be aware of ozone levels in your community and try to stay inside when levels are high.

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Reviewed: May 26, 2005

© 2018 American Association for Respiratory Care