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How Does Air Pollution and Air Quality Affect Asthma?

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Asthma attacks are often triggered by small particles in the air, such as pollen, mould spores, and dust mites.

Can Air Pollution Trigger Asthma Attacks?

Air pollution levels can also trigger asthma attacks. Or if they don’t trigger an attack directly, they can make you more sensitive to your usual triggers. If you or your children suffer from asthma, improving the air quality in your home – such as with an air purifier – can help you reduce the levels of particles in the air that could trigger an attack.

Asthma and Lung UK report that air pollution can make asthma worse in two thirds of sufferers.

Common Asthma Triggers

  • Pets and animals.
  • Dust mites.
  • Pollen.
  • Mould and damp.

Certain things can also make you more sensitive to your usual asthma triggers. Examples include stress and anxiety, colds and flus, certain weather conditions, and air pollution levels.

How Does Air Pollution Affect Asthma?

Air pollution is caused by harmful particulates in the air. These particulates can irritate your airway and trigger asthma attacks. If the particulates are small enough to get in your lungs, the problem can become serious – even life-threatening.

As well as pollution itself posing a risk, it can also make people with asthma more sensitive to their usual triggers. And children are especially at risk from the effects of pollution, as their lungs are still developing and they have faster breathing rates.

Asthma & Lung UK are just one group campaigning for tougher laws limiting air pollution levels. Recently, a nine year old girl became the first person in the UK to have “pollution” listed as her cause of death. Her coroner is now calling for a change in the law, claiming that there’s “no safe level of particulate matter” in the air.

Where Are Pollution Levels Highest?

Any area with a high concentration of harmful emissions can become an air pollution hotspot. These include main roads, junctions, bus stations, and car parks. But it’s not just vehicle emissions that cause air pollution. It’s almost any kind of burning fuel. So powerplants, waste disposal sites, and even fireplaces and small bonfires can also cause a rise in air pollution.

If you or your child suffers from asthma, try and avoid these air pollution hotspots. If you need to travel, use quiet backstreets wherever possible, and try and plan your journeys to avoid rush hours, when the pollution levels will be highest.

How to Reduce Pollution Levels at Home

There are a few things you can do to manage air pollution in your home, and to ensure you’re ready should you or anyone else in your family suffer from asthma:

  • Check the forecast. You can check the Daily Air Quality Index to get an idea of what the pollution levels will be on any given day. You can plan your days around this forecast. On days of high pollution, for example, you can keep your windows shut and limit your travel. Also keep an eye on the weather forecast. Air pollution is likely to be lower on windy days, for example. Whereas it might be more of a problem on still or sunny days.
  • Use your inhalers. Stick to your preventer inhaler schedule, and keep your reliever inhaler with you at all times. If you’re helping your baby or child cope with asthma, make sure you know how each inhaler works, and when to use them.
  • Get an air purifier. A good home air purifier can remove up to 99% of particles from the air, which will help reduce allergies while enabling you to manage the effects of air pollution in your area. Make sure you regularly change your home air purifier particle and carbon filters too, to ensure it stays in good working order when you need it most.


At The Conscious Parent, we’re here to help you make environmentally and health-conscious decisions for your family. If you’re worried about the air quality in your home, explore our air purifier range designed for home use or explore out environmentally friendly products for you home.

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