Respiratory health risks rise with temperatures

Air pollution is an environmental risk hazardous to human health. High levels of air pollution can cause a bevy of respiratory issues, such as increased incidences of asthma attacks, respiratory infections, lung cancer, and even death.

“Oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, smoke, and ozone are irritants of the airways and can worsen any pre-existing lung condition,” says Dr. Jonathan Weissler, director of the James M. Collins Center for Biomedical Research at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “People with chronic lung disease should try to minimize their time outdoors when air quality becomes extremely poor.”

Unfortunately, another summer of triple-digit temperatures will worsen air quality. The combination of sunlight and heat essentially bakes the atmosphere and the various airborne chemical compounds within it. This chemical concoction mixes with naturally occurring nitrogen oxides in the air to create smog, or ground-level ozone.

Dallas/Fort Worth has consistently ranked among the nation’s list of cities with poor air quality. The 2012 State of the Air Report, released in late April by the American Lung Association, ranked the D/FW Metroplex 12th worst among 232 U.S. cities for ozone-related air pollution – the most hazardous type of pollution to health. Los Angeles tops the infamous list, followed by six other California areas – Visalia, Bakersfield, Fresno, Hanford, Sacramento, and San Diego. In Texas, only the Houston area (8th) rated worse than Dallas/Fort Worth.

Visit www.utsouthwestern.org/heartlungvascular to learn more about UT Southwestern’s heart, lung, and vascular clinical services.

May is Clean Air Month.

Media Contact: Lisa Ashley Warshaw

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