Thanks to new innovations like cleaner power plants and cleaner vehicles, United States’ residents are breathing cleaner air than ever before. However, according the the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report, 40% of all Americans still live where the air is unhealthy to breath.
This report looked specifically at ozone and particle pollution both short-term and year-round. Ozone pollution, better known as smog, is most likely inhaled by children, senior over 65-years-old, people who work outdoors and people with heart and lung diseases. Particle pollution, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is “a result of chemical reactions between pollutants…a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets that get into the air. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects.” They recorded their findings from 2013-2015 to create this report that was released in April 2017. Here is what they found.
California is still one of the worst places for breathable air. Los Angeles (pictured above) remains at the top of the list for the city with the worst ozone pollution. It has been at number 1, 17 out of the 18 reports created. California also ranks 7 out of the 10 most-polluted metropolitan areas and has 11 of 25 worst cities. Unfortunately, this state’s pollution is not only due to human negligence (car emissions, etc.) but is also due to its complicated weather and landscape. Wildfires’ smoke is a big issue for pollution.
Next, some “industrial cities” in the east are making improvements. Many cities have begun cleaning up coal-fired power plants as well as other improvements. Cities such as Pittsburgh, PA (pictured below) and Knoxville, TN have reported a lower amount of unhealthy air days than ever before.
Third, the places with the best air are not what you would expect. Many people would determine from logical reasoning that rural areas have the best quality air. This is true in some cases, but there are many metropolitan cities listed on “cities with the cleanest air.” Those cities include: Burlington, VT, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL, Elmira-Corning, NY, Honolulu, HI (pictured below), and Wilmington, NC.
Finally, climate change is certainly has a negative effect on air pollution. Due to extreme weather patterns many areas reported having higher number of days with high pollutants in the air, more than they ever have before.