Air pollution

Who’s most at risk from air pollution?

People react to air pollution in different ways and some are more affected than others.

Air pollution is especially harmful to people who are living with a lung condition, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Older people, children and babies also have a higher risk of experiencing symptoms and other harmful effects from breathing in polluted air.

Healthy people who work or exercise outdoors might also experience symptoms when they’re exposed to moderate or high levels of pollution. They may feel out of breath or start coughing.

When concentrations of air pollution are high, the government issues an alert and bulletins will appear alongside local and national weather forecasts. Visit the government’s website to find the forecast for your area, or other areas if you’re planning a trip away from home.

Next: How can I protect myself from air pollution? >

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Download our air pollution information (434KB, PDF)

Last medically reviewed: April 2017. Due for review: April 2020

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.