Air pollution and asthma

Find out how air pollution can trigger your asthma symptoms.

We're campaigning for cleaner air

We want to stop people with lung conditions from worrying about the air they breathe. Read more about our policy work.  

How does air pollution affect asthma?

Air pollution harms everybody, but it’s especially harmful if you have asthma. Around two-thirds of people with asthma tell us poor air quality makes their asthma worse, putting them at risk of an asthma attack.

Air pollution can irritate your airways. It can also make your asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness worse. This means you may need to use your reliever inhaler more.

Find out about different types of air pollutants

How can I lower my risk?

  1. Manage your asthma well. If you have a preventer inhaler or a MART inhaler, take it every day as prescribed, even if you feel well.
  2. Be prepared by checking the pollution forecast in your area with DEFRA’s UK-wide forecasts.
  3. If you can, avoid pollution hotspots like main roads, junctions, bus stations, and car parks. Try to use quieter back streets as much as possible or go out earlier before pollution levels increase.
  4. Always keep your reliever inhaler with you, so that you can use it to quickly treat asthma symptoms in an emergency.
  5. See your GP if you’re getting symptoms or using your reliever inhaler (usually blue) more than three times a week.  

Read more about lowering your risk

Get support

Call our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

Did you find this information useful?

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 0300 222 5800 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

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