Girl Planting seeds

Air Pollutants: Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality

Many people think of air pollution strictly as an outdoor air quality issue, but the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that indoor air pollution may be at least 2-5 times higher than the amount of outdoor air pollutants. We spend approximately 90% of our time indoors, thus may be more adversely affected by pollutants in our homes, schools and other buildings. The most common sources of indoor air pollution are dust, lead, radon, carbon monoxide, formaldehydes (VOCs), carbon dioxide and tobacco smoke.1
Outdoor air pollution is a threat to children because they spend more time playing outdoors and they breath more rapidly than adults. Therefore, they are more susceptible to the effects of outdoor air pollution. The six major outdoor pollutants are: ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.2

One result of air pollution is the rise in asthma in children in the United States. There has been an increase in asthma in recent years. Asthma is caused by both a genetic predisposition and can also be triggered by environmental factors such as allergens, viruses and air quality.

Fact: Asthma is a major public health problem of increasing concern in the United States. Between 1980 and 1994, the prevalence of asthma increased 75% overall and 74% among children 5 to 14 years of age. Asthma now affects nearly 5 million people who are younger than 18 years of age. Low-income populations, minorities, and children living in inner cities experience disproportionately higher morbidity and mortality due to asthma.3

Fact: Asthma is the number one cause of emergency room visits and the number one cause of missed school. IN CANADA AND THE US, 5 CHILDREN DIE FROM ASTHMA EVERY WEEK.4

Fact: In East Harlem, the death rate associated with asthma is 10 times the national average.5

Seasonal Allergies: Impact of our Environment
Coal Ash
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2 Children's Environmental Health Network,
An Introduction to Children's Environmental Health -


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention USA

4 Childhood Asthma Foundation -

5 World Resources Institute - 

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