More stringent regulations and clean air initiatives have helped with the air quality problem the United States faces, but over 175 million people in the U.S.—roughly 58 percent—still suffer from pollution levels that are often dangerous, according to the American Lung Association.
The most common kinds of air pollution fall into two categories: ozone (smog) and particle pollution (soot). Breathing either does not do a body good. Air pollution is a serious health threat that affects all exposed to it. It can lead to large variety of lung ailments and can have a severe impact on cardiovascular health–it speeds up aging and it can be deadly. Some of the biggest sources of air pollution are dirty power plants, old diesel vehicles and heavy equipment, and ocean-going vessels.
Ozone (O3) is a highly reactive gas molecule composed of three oxygen atoms. Although in the upper atmosphere ozone is essential (it protects us from much of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, thank you ozone)–ozone air pollution at our level is harmful and causes serious health problems by attacking lung tissue and causing inflammation and other damage.