Asthma & Air Pollution Make an Appointment Refer a Patient Ask a Question Reviewed by David Tinkelman, MD (April 01, 2012) Question: Could Air Pollution Cause Asthma? Answer: In general, we don't think air pollution is one of the main causes of asthma and that is because many parts of the world which have a lot of pollution don't necessarily have higher rates of asthma. However, it is known that in urban areas of the United States, especially the inner city, there are higher rates of asthma. So air pollution may be one of the factors that cause asthma, but probably not the main factor. Question: Does Air Pollution Affect Asthma? Answer: It's very clear that air pollution can make asthma worse, so if you live in a city with a lot of air pollution, chances are you will have worse asthma than if you lived in a cleaner environment. Question: What are Symptoms of Air Pollution Exposure? Answer: Some of the symptoms of air pollution exposure include chest tightness, difficulty with breathing in and cough or wheezing. Certain types of air pollution can also cause fatigue, including carbon monoxide. Some types of air pollution can also cause eye irritation and nasal congestion. Question: Who is Most Affected by Air Pollution? Answer: The groups most affected by air pollution include children and the elderly. People with chronic diseases, such as emphysema, heart disease and asthma are also more susceptible than the general population. We have found that younger children are most susceptible to air pollution related changes in the lungs and that air pollution effects on health are greatest in children with under-controlled disease. Keeping a child's asthma under good overall control with the proper use of medications and avoidance of daily triggers should also help alleviate air pollution-related effects. Pets & Asthma Clinical Trials For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.