Health Watch - The Great Outdoors: Smog

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about heading into the great outdoors. After being stuck indoors all winter, it feels good to get outside for exercise, but look out for the air quality, especially if you have breathing difficulties.

Dr. David Khan, an allergist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says inhaling ozone smog can cause asthma attacks, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Children, the elderly and those with asthma or other lung diseases are most at risk. Before you exercise outdoors, look out for the air pollution index, which is usually given as part of the weather report. On high ozone days, exercise indoors. Go to the gym, walk at a shopping mall or use home exercise equipment. To reduce your ozone exposure outdoors, exercise in the morning when ozone levels are lowest. Smog levels increase with traffic and sunlight. You can also try to avoid exercising around high-traffic areas where there’s more auto exhaust.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in allergy.


May 2009

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