Glossary of commonly used terms

Aerosols Scientific term used to describe particles suspended in a fluid such as air.
Airways The passageways through which air moves while traveling in and out of the lungs during breathing.
Asthma A disease characterized by inflamed and narrowed airways and difficulty breathing.
Alveolar region Gas-exchange region of the deep lung.
Alveoli Small saclike areas of the lungs that make up the alveolar region.
Ambient Outdoor.
Anemia A condition in which the blood does not contain enough hemoglobin, the compound that carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body.
Antibody A protein made by white blood cells to fight a specific foreign protein.
Bronchitis Inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which connect the trachea to the lungs.
Carcinogenic Cancer-causing.
Emphysema A condition caused by a breakdown of alveoli walls resulting in shortness of breath and coughing.
Epidemiology Scientific study of the causes and control of epidemics and illnesses.
Free radical Extremely reactive chemical compound.
Hemoglobin The compound in red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen; hemoglobin bound to oxygen gives blood its red color.
Greenhouse gases Gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that have a high potential for trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere.
Global warming Predicted warming of the Earth's climate due to increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, largely due to the burning of fossil fuels.
Lung function A gauge of how well the lung performs measured by the volume of exhaled air.
Macrophages In response to foreign materials, these immune system cells may become stimulated and play an important role in killing some tumor cells, bacteria and protozoa.
Microgram One-millionth of one gram.
Micron One-millionth of a meter, or one-thousandth of a millimeter.
Mutagenic Anything that can increase the rate of abnormal change in cells, which can lead to cancer.
Organic compounds Chemical compounds containing carbon and hydrogen molecules.
Pathogen Any substance capable of causing disease.
Photochemical reactions Chemical reactions of pollutants in the atmosphere driven by the sun's energy.
ppm Parts per million.

American Lung AssociationLink to external website.