Did You Know


  • Air pollution is a serious health threat. It can trigger asthma attacks, hinder lung development in children and even be deadly.
  • Breathing polluted air can irritate the lungs like a sunburn irritates the skin.
  • Idling vehicle engines produce thousands of tons of pollution per year including air toxins, which are known to cause cancer, respiratory and reproductive effects, birth defects or other serious health concerns.
  • Ozone and particle pollution are both linked to increased risk of lower birth weight in newborns.
  • Breathing ozone can shorten your life. Research shows that the risk of premature death increases with higher levels of ozone.
  • People who live near high traffic roads face greater risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma and bronchitis as these places contain more concentrated levels of air pollution.
  • Aerobic activities like walking and running when air quality conditions are favorable give your heart and lungs the kind of workout they need to function efficiently.
  • Particle pollution can increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks and can interfere with the growth and work of the lungs.
  • The average American breathes two gallons of air per minute, which means around 3,400 gallons of air each day.
  • People who work or exercise outside face increased risk from the effects of air pollution.
  • Many air pollution particles are smaller than 1/30th the diameter of a human hair. When you inhale them, they are small enough to get past the body’s natural defenses.
  • You can protect your family by checking the air quality forecasts in your community and avoiding exercising or working outdoors when unhealthy air is expected.
  • Studies have shown long-term exposure to traffic pollution can lead to poor cognition and may increase the risk for dementia.
  • People of color and those earning lower incomes are often disproportionately affected by air pollution which put them at higher risk for illnesses.
  • Ozone aggressively attacks lung tissue by reacting chemically with it.
  • Lawn mower exhaust and gasoline vapors contain VOCs that are key to ozone formation in the presence of heat and sun.
  • *Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, those who suffer from lung conditions and older adults are more at risk for severe disease than others. When it comes to poor air quality, those same individuals are also at risk, along with children who are more susceptible to air pollution as their lungs are still developing.


  • Idling for longer than 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting your engine.
  • Idling for 10 minutes a day wastes more than 27 gallons of fuel in a year.
  • Carpooling, using transit, telecommuting and supporting programs to limit idling can all help reduce emissions that lead to poor air quality.
  • Indoor air can become polluted with exhaust from vehicles idling outside.

State of the Air

  • More than 137 million Americans are exposed to unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.
  • More than four in ten people live in counties with unhealthy ozone or particle pollution (at least one F).
  • Close to 19.8 million people live in the 14 counties that failed all three measures.
  • St. Louis ranks 37th overall in the nation for most ozone-polluted cities.
  • St. Louis ranks 24th overall in the nation for most polluted cities by annual particle pollution.