Download the 2020 State of the Air full report


Health Effects of Ozone and Particle Pollution

Two types of air pollution dominate in the U.S.: ozone and particle pollution1. These two pollutants threaten the health and the lives of millions of Americans. Thanks to the Clean Air Act, the U.S. has far less of both pollutants now than in the past. Still, 150 million people live in counties where monitors show unhealthy levels of one or both—meaning the air a family breathes could shorten life or cause lung cancer and other harmful effects.

So what are ozone and particle pollution?

Air pollution remains a major danger to the health of children and adults

Ozone Pollution

It may be hard to imagine that pollution could be invisible, but ozone is. It is currently one of the least-well-controlled pollutants in the United States. And, it is also one of the most dangerous. Learn more about ozone.

Particle Pollution

Ever look at dirty truck exhaust? Overwhelming evidence shows that particle pollution—like that coming from that exhaust smoke—can kill. Particle pollution can increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks and can interfere with the growth and work of the lungs. Learn more about particle pollution.

Focusing on Children's Health

Children face special risks from air pollution because their lungs are growing and because they are so active. Learn more about children and air pollution.

Disparities in the Impact of Air Pollution

The burden of air pollution is not evenly shared. Poorer people and some racial and ethnic groups are among those who often face higher exposure to pollutants. Learn more about disparities and air pollution.

Living Near Highways

Being in heavy traffic, or living near a road, may be even more dangerous than being in other places in a community. Learn more about living near highways and air pollution.

How to Protect Yourself from Ozone and Particle Pollution

You can take steps to protect yourself and your family. Get 10 tips to protect yourself from unhealthy air.

Going Beyond Ozone and Particle Pollution

Ozone and particle pollution are the most widespread, but they are not the only serious air pollutants. Others include carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, as well as scores of toxins such as mercury, arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, and acid gases. However, the monitoring networks are not as widespread nationwide for the other pollutants. Learn more about these pollutants.

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