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How does air pollution affect me?

Air pollution in Northern Ireland is never so bad that we should be afraid to go outdoors. However, some people do find that air pollution affects their health and wellbeing.

When air pollution is higher than usual, people who already have heart or lung problems are more likely to become unwell and need treatment. They should take their doctor’ advice.

Older people are more likely to suffer from heart and lung problems than young people, so it makes good sense for them to be aware of the air quality.

Healthy people will not usually notice any effects at all. However, if air pollution reaches “very high” levels, even some healthy people may get a sore or dry throat, sore eyes or perhaps a tickly cough.

Children need not stay away from school, or avoid taking part in games, because of air pollution. Children with asthma should make sure they have their usual medicines with them on days when levels of air pollution are higher than usual.

However, different people are affected in different ways. So, anyone who has asthma or any other health problem that may make them sensitive to pollution should take the advice of their doctor.

(This information is based on the information provided by Defra on “Short-term effects of air pollution on health” which can be found at