American Lung Association Releases State of the Air 2010
The American Lung Association has released its most recent report on the air quality across the United States, and while many places have improved, nearly six out of ten Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution.
The State of the Air 2010 report examines levels of ozone and particle pollution from sites across the US for the years 2006, 2007, and 2008. For comparison, last year’s report covered 2005 through 2007. This year, the report also includes estimates for at-risk groups, such as those living in poverty. People with low incomes face higher risk of harm from air pollution.
According to the data calculations, the strongest improvement came in the year-round particle pollution levels, which comes from air contaminants such as ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols. Twenty of the 25 cities found to be most polluted had cleaner air than reported in last year’s report.
The most polluted cities ranked by year-round particle pollution are Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale AZ, Bakersfield CA, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside CA, Visalia-Porterville CA, and Pittsburgh-New Castle PA.
The Top 10 cleanest cities for particle pollution are Cheyenne WY, Sante Fe-Espanola NM, Honolulu HI, Anchorage AK, Great Falls MT, Tucson AZ, Amarillo TX, Albuquerque NM, Flagstaff AZ, and Bismarck ND.
Most cities also improved in ozone (smog) levels. Ozone is a gas that occurs normally in the upper atmosphere to protect the earth from harmful sun rays. When it is closer to the ground, it is a pollutant that can cause significant health problems, especially for children with asthma. It also damages crops, trees, and other vegetation.
For ozone, the top five most polluted metropolitan areas are in California. Number one is the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside area, followed by Bakersfield, Visalia-Porterville, Fresno Madera, and Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City.
The cleanest US cities in terms of ozone air pollution are Bismarck ND, Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville TX, Coeur d’Alene OD, Duluth MN-WI, Fargo-Wahpeton ND-MN, Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers AR-MO, Honolulu HI, Laredo TX, and Lincoln NE.
The American Lung Association leads the fight for healthy air every day, by encouraging environmental changes such as tighter clean air standards, reduced power plant emissions, and cleaner diesel fuels and vehicles. According to one study, the efforts to clean up particle pollution may have added 5 months to the average life span in 51 US cities.