Athletes United for Healthy Air

Athletes, unite! A project of GASP, Athletes United for Clean Air is exactly what it sounds like—a campaign uniting athletes in every shape, size, and form. Whether you run marathons or walk dogs, you are an athlete.

Exercising is necessary for good health. It causes the heart to beat more rapidly and the lungs to breathe more often and more deeply, strengthening your vital organs.

Athletes need clean air to exercise in. The harmful effects of exercising in polluted air can almost outweigh the benefits you receive from exercising. This is especially true for sensitive populations like children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

While our region has made great strides, Southwestern Pennsylvania still lays claim to some of the worst air quality in the country. Allegheny County consistently ranks poorly for two pollutants in particular: ozone and PM2.5. Both of these pollutants critically affect your health.

Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, are sooty particles that can carry toxins into your bloodstream. They are linked to deterioration of lung function, skin and eye ailments, and so much more. Meanwhile, ground level-ozone can damage the respiratory system, aggravate asthma, and even cause heart attacks.

And you’re breathing all that in! If you want to fight against dirty air, Athletes United for Healthy Air has the resources to help you be the champion you need.

Here’s what you can do:


  • Work out in the early morning or early evening when pollution levels are generally lower. Click here to access an in-depth look into when PM2.5 and ozone spike throughout the day.
  • Avoid busy streets. More traffic means more pollution. Take a side street–even if it’s only one block away, it’ll make a big difference. A brief article explaining this can be found here.
  • Pay attention to Air Quality Action Days, and adjust your exercise accordingly.
  • Practice nasal breathing. This helps to filter out asthma triggers like dust and pollen and keeps the incoming air the proper temperature and moisture level. Read more here.

FOR YOUR TEAM. Schedule practices for times and locations that reduce your team’s exposure to poor air quality, and shift your practice indoors on Air Quality Action Days.


  • If you’re a student, make sure to tell your teacher that you’re interested in learning more about air quality issues and taking action as a class.
  • If you’re a teacher, consider using our Digital Toolkit to teach your class lessons (contact us to receive the Toolkit).
  • Whatever your role is at a school, use your voice to champion for EPA’s School Flag Program.

FOR YOUR COMMUNITY. Together, we can all make a difference. Join Athletes United for Healthy Air to exercise with like-minded individuals, learn from experts, and champion clean air.

For more information on future events, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter or email us at For our air, our health, and our environment, we look forward to your participation!