Your Child's Asthma and Ozone

Air pollution can be a problem for many people who live in and near cities. And for children with asthma, air pollution can cause serious health problems.

One of the main signs of poor air quality is a high amount of ozone. Ozone is a gas that forms when certain chemicals and toxins in the air mix with heat and sunlight.

High levels of ozone can cause breathing problems. Some symptoms include coughing, throat irritation, and airway inflammation. Children with asthma may have more severe symptoms. They are also more likely to have an asthma attack when ozone levels are high.

Ozone is more likely to form in warm weather. This means children are more likely to have breathing problems when playing outdoors in the summer. Ozone levels are usually highest from April through October. In some parts of the country, levels may be high all year.

Girl holding inhaler

How you can help

You can take a number of steps to protect your child from ozone and air pollution. 

  • Check of the air quality index (AQI) in your area every day. The AQI is a report on the levels of common air pollution across the U.S. When the AQI in your area is 100 or higher, limit the time your child spends outdoors. You can find the AQI for your area in local newspapers, on local TV and radio stations (as part of the weather forecast), and online.

  • On "ozone action days," people with asthma should stay inside if they can.

  • On other days with poor air-quality, limit the time your child spends outside during the afternoon and early evening hours. This is when ozone levels are usually highest. Early in the morning and after sunset are better times for outdoor play.

  • Keep children indoors or away from busy roads when ozone levels are high.

  • Don't use tools like lawnmowers that are powered with gasoline when children are outside.

  • Make sure you seal the lids of all household cleaners and other chemicals to keep fumes from escaping.

  • Make sure your child uses his or her asthma medications as instructed.