Air Pollution Sidelines Kids with Asthma

BY ON September 17, 2012

Girl standing in front of a soccer goal, using an asthma inhaler.

This post was written by Heather Stephenson, publisher of the Appalachian Mountain Club:

Every year, American kids miss 10.5 million days of school because of asthma, according to the EPA. One in every 10 kids is affected.

They’re not just missing school. They’re missing simple childhood pleasures, like running outside without wheezing and playing on a sports team without toting an inhaler.

One of the major causes is air pollution, measured in fine particulates (which we see as haze) and ozone in the air we breathe.

Individual families can and should create plans to cope with a child’s asthma (see the EPA recommendations here). And schools have come up with creative responses, like raising a flag that is color coded to indicate the air quality each day, to help children modify their activities and manage their asthma.

But we must also attack the problem at the source. We need cleaner air, and not just for kids. Just as concerned parents and teachers are clearing away dust mites, mold, and other asthma triggers in homes and schools, we must clear away pollutants in our air that are harming our health.

Poor air quality is often associated with cities, but it also especially affects hikers who enjoy outdoor recreation on the high peaks of the eastern United States. That’s why AMC’s researchers and policy staff focus so much time on air quality—and why we parents who like to get outdoors with our kids should too.


Heather Stephenson leads the AMC team that creates books, maps, videos, a print and online magazine, and blogs like this one to encourage people to enjoy—and protect—our natural world. Before becoming AMC’s publisher in 2007, she was an award-winning journalist based in Vermont and edited books on women’s health for Our Bodies Ourselves. She takes her own advice and gets outside with her family as often as possible.


TOPICS: Asthma, Clean Air Rules and Regulations, New Hampshire, Pollution, Schools