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Who is Most Affected by Outdoor Air Pollution?


Outdoor air pollution is unhealthy for everyone, but some groups of people are more vulnerable than others. Taken all together, these groups make up a large portion of the population.

Children face special risks from air pollution because their airways are small and still developing, and because they breathe more rapidly and inhale more air relative to their size than do adults. In addition, the body’s defenses that help adults fight off infections are still developing in children. Children have more respiratory infections than adults, which increases their susceptibility to air pollution. Kids are also more likely to spend time being active outdoors, which can increase their exposure on bad air days. Growing up breathing high levels of air pollution can affect how children’s lungs develop, putting them at greater risk of lung disease as they age.


Source: American Lung Association (2023). Who Is at Risk?