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Athletes United for Healthy Air

Athletes, unite! A project of the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), Athletes United for Healthy Air is exactly what is sounds like–a campaign bringing together athletes of all kinds to champion clean air. Whether you’re a casual runner or an avid bicyclist, it’s important to stay informed about our regional air quality.

Regular exercise can reduce blood pressure and blood clots, improve brain function, prolong life expectancy, and so much more. Unfortunately, many of these health benefits can be diminished by breathing air pollution. This is especially true for sensitive populations like children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

Southwestern Pennsylvania lays claim to some of the worst air quality in the country. Allegheny County consistently ranks poorly for two pollutants in particular: ozone and particulate matter. Both of these pollutants critically affect your health.

Particulate matter includes solid and liquid droplets of various sizes suspended in air. Particulate matter is associated with everything from inflammation of the respiratory system, to asthma, heart attacks, various cancers, diabetes, and autism. Breathing ground-level ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can also worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.

Athletes need clean air to exercise 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!

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