Hot, Smoggy Days Lead to Lung Problems

The number of extremely hot days in the US is expected to rise - thanks to global warming. And with it, smog levels are expected to elevate to unsafe levels.

Dr. John Balmes of the American Lung Association of California says that higher smog levels "may cause or exacerbate serious health problems, including damage to lung tissue, reduced lung function, asthma, emphysema, bronchitis and increased hospitalizations for people with cardiac and respiratory illnesses."

So what causes smog? It forms when sunlight, heat and mostly stagnant air couple with nitrogen oxides and different dangerous organic compounds. Exposure to smog can do serious damage to your lungs and respiratory systems. Inflammation and irritation can cause shortness of breath, throat irritation, chest pains and coughing which can lead to an asthma attack - resulting in trips to the hospital. The aftermath is much more dire when people are exposed to these elements while being active.

More hot days mean conditions are ripe for producing smog that can trigger asthma and other breathing problems.

Dr. John Balbus is the Head of the Environmental Defense's Health Program and says, "The number of people with asthma in this country has more than doubled over the past 25-years, led by soaring rates in children. With climate change worsening smog in some areas and altering pollen levels, future air quality may pose a greater threat to our health, especially those of us with asthma and other diseases."