Climate Change and Health: Air Quality

Climate change often makes air pollution worse.  Several groups are particularly susceptible to harms from poor air quality including infants and young children, the elderly, people with respiratory diseases or other serious health conditions, outdoor workers and athletes.

A variety of climate-related air pollutants affect our health.


Ozone accumulates in hot stagnant air, and concentrations increase as temperature rises. The longer, hotter summers we are experiencing as the climate warms increase exposure of millions of people to this dangerous pollutant.  Risks include asthma attacks, pneumonia, coughing and shortness of breath, cardiovascular damage, increased susceptibility to infections, and decreased lung functions. Children, people with asthma, and those with certain lung and heart illnesses are at particular risk.