60% of Americans Breathe Polluted Air, Says New Report from American Lung Association
Localized air pollution is a health hazard for 58% of Americans, said the American Lung Association on Wednesday in its State of the Air 2010 report, and increases their risk of respiratory and heart disease, and premature death. ALA says,
(Los Angeles. Photo: Marcy Reiford.)
Unhealthy air remains a threat to the lives and health of millions of people in the United States, despite great progress. Even as the nation explores the complex challenges of global warming and energy, air pollution lingers as a widespread and dangerous reality.
Particulate pollution can precipitate and exacerbate asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and heart disease. People at increased risk include those in poverty, children and the elderly, and people who already have diabetes, respiratory or cardiovascular disease.
The State of the Air examined levels of ozone, and fine particulate pollution over short term (24-hour), and particulate annual averages (data from EPA).
(Photo: Kenneth Hynek.)
Winners for worst pollution:
1. Ozone—Los Angeles, CA
2. Year-Round Particle—Phoenix, AZ
3. Short-Term Particle—Bakersfield, CA
1. Ozone—Bismarck, ND
2. Year-Round Particle—Cheyenne, WY
3. Short-Term Particle—Alexandria, LA
The overall cleanest places to live (faring well in all three categories) were Fargo, ND, Wahpeton, MN, and Lincoln, NE.
California claims most of the areas with an increase in annual average pollution, since 2009, and the state suffers an estimated 18,000 premature deaths annually from particle pollution, says the California Air Resources Board.
On a positive note, there has been a great deal of improvement in the past year for annual averages of particle pollution. Record low year-round levels were reported in 16 cities, primarily old eastern industrial centers like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, and Atlanta. Much of the improvement is attributed to controlling the soot and dust of coal fired power plants and emissions from cars.
These results show that cleaning up major sources of air pollution produces healthier air. However, the continuing problem demonstrates that more remains to be done,
(Air polluting power plant near Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. Photo: Johnny Kilroy.)
To ameliorate pollution and create healthier air, ALA recommends targeting the following major sources:
- Power plants, Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010 (S.2995)
- Diesel engines
- Ozone/particle standards, EPA
- Personal vehicles
- Wood/trash burning
- Electricity use