How Clean is the Air You Breathe?

Experts

Policy Counsel, Energy and Environment
Senior Communications Associate, Energy Policy

By Jason Kuruvilla on Thursday, April 20th, 2017

The American Lung Association is out with its latest State of the Air report for 2017. The report looks at air quality in communities across the country and finds continued progress in reducing air pollution, but also troubling signs on the horizon.

The number of Americans living with unhealthy levels of air pollution has dropped since the last report – 125 million Americans in 2016 compared to 166 million between 2012-2014. And in the 25 cities with the worst levels of air pollution, the majority saw significant improvements over the last year.

Despite this progress, 4-in-10 American still live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. And 18 million Americans live in counties that rank at the bottom on the three key measures of pollution: ozone, year round particle pollution and short term particle pollution.  Of the top-10 cities with the worst air quality, seven are in California.

By Ozone By Year Round Particle Pollution By Short-Term Particle Pollution
1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif. 1. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif. 1. Bakersfield, Calif.
2. Bakersfield, Calif. 2. Bakersfield, Calif. 2. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
3. Fresno-Madera, Calif.

Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.

3. Fresno-Madera, Calif. 3. Fresno-Madera, Calif.
4. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif. 4. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif. 4. Modesto-Merced, Calif.
5. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. 5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif. 5. Fairbanks, Ala.
6. Modesto-Merced, Calif. 6. Modesto-Merced, Calif. 6. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif.
7. San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. 7. El Centro, Calif. 7. Salt lake City-Provo-Orem, Utah
8. Sacramento-Roseville, Calif. 8. Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, Pa.-Ohio-W. Va. 8. Logan, Utah-Idaho
9. New York-Newark, N.Y.-N.J.-Conn.-Pa. 9. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio 9. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
10. Las Vegas-Henderson, Nev.-Ariz. 10. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grane, Calif. 10. Reno-Carson City-Fernley, Nev.

For more city rankings, visit: http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/city-rankings/     

The findings from the report make one thing abundantly clear – the Clean Air Act is working to improve the lives of Americans across the country. As a result of policies and programs funded by the Clean Air Act, millions fewer Americans are at risk of asthma, lung cancer and other respiratory ailments. Particle pollution is also responsible for increased incidents of heart attacks and stroke, diabetes, heart disease and other cardiovascular ailments. These diseases not only devastate the families impacted by them, but they result in billions of dollars in avoidable healthcare spending annually. Attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act will place more families at risk of preventable disease and death.

Six cities were recognized as the cleanest in the United States, meaning they had no days in the unhealthy level for ozone or short-term particle pollution: (in alphabetical order) Burlington, VT; Cape Coral,-Fort Myers-Naples, Fla,;Elmira-Corning, NY; Honolulu, HI; Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla; and Willmington, NC.

For more, visit: lung.org/sota

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