How Does Air Quality Affect People With Asthma? People with asthma are more likely to have trouble breathing in places with polluted air or smog. Poor air quality can cause flare-ups, and also may increase the chances of respiratory infections, like flu, that can make asthma symptoms worse. What Makes Air Quality Poor? You've probably heard about the ozone layer and how we need to protect it. The ozone layer is up high in the atmosphere and protects us from the sun's rays. But there's a different layer of ozone closer to the ground called ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone forms when chemicals from cars, power plants, and factories mix with sunlight. This "ozone pollution" is a main part of smog — the brownish-yellow haze often seen hanging over cities on the horizon. It can irritate the lungs and cause breathing problems. Particle pollution also makes the air dirty. Particle pollution is created when tiny bits of dust, dirt, smoke, soot, and other stuff hang in the air. The smaller the particles, the deeper they can get into the lungs and cause breathing problems. How Can I Deal With Poor Air Quality? If air pollution is a trigger for you, you'll want to avoid it as much as possible. Talk to your doctor about what to add to your asthma action plan. You can track air quality at the website AIRNow. The EPA created the site to help people affected by air pollution decide whether they need to stay inside. The system is color coded —green or yellow means it's OK to be outside; orange, purple, or maroon mean you should stay indoors. You can also get air quality information from weather reports and apps. On days when air quality is bad: Run the air conditioner, which filters the air. Plan any outdoor activities for early in the day, when air quality tends to be better. Don't spend time in places where there's lots of traffic. If you play a sport that has practices outdoors during hot weather, talk to your coach about what you can do to stay out of dirty air. This might mean you need to work out in an air-conditioned gym or miss some practices. Your doctor might have more ideas on how to handle smog or poor air quality. No matter what, be sure to always have your quick-relief medicine with you, just in case you need it. Back to Articles Related Articles Asthma Center Visit our Asthma Center for information and advice on managing and living with asthma. Read More Traveling and Asthma If you have asthma, travel can seem less fun because there's always the worry that something unexpected may cause a flare-up. Here's how to avoid problems so you can concentrate on the fun. Read More Can the Weather Affect a Person's Asthma? The weather can affect your asthma symptoms. If you think weather may be triggering your asthma, here are some tips for dealing with it. Read More Exercise-Induced Asthma Some people have asthma symptoms only during or after exercise. This is called exercise-induced asthma. Get some tips for coping with it in this article. Read More How Do Asthma Medicines Work? Two different types of medicines are used to treat asthma: long-term control medicines and quick-relief medicines. Read about how they work, and why people might need to take them. Read More Asthma Asthma is a lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. Learn all about asthma here. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.