Managing Your Environment Make an Appointment Refer a Patient Ask a Question Reviewed by Barry J. Make, MD, Irina Petrache, MD (September 01, 2016) One way to minimize your COPD symptoms is to avoid or reduce environmental factors that cause more symptoms. Air Pollution: Common adverse health effects of air pollution are increased irritation of the respiratory tract, chronic cough, chest tightness, decreased pulmonary function and increased vulnerability to allergens and other immune system challenges. Secondhand Smoke: Secondhand smoke is the smoke that is breathed out by a smoker or the smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar. When you breathe in smoke from a smoker around you, this is called passive smoke. These both are strong respiratory irritants and can cause or worsen respiratory conditions. Avoid exposure to secondhand and passive smoke by encouraging others to avoid smoking in your home and car. Indoor Air Pollution: We spend approximately 80 percent of our time indoors. Therefore, it is important to look at sources within the home that may emit particulates, gases and fumes harmful to our health. BACK: Giving Up Smoking COPD: Giving Up Smoking COPD: Nutrition 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.