October 23, 2021

Reference: 2016 ‘State of the Air’ Report From American Lung Association Finds More than Half of Americans Live with Unhealthful Levels of Air Pollution

From the American Lung Association:

2016-04-23_14-37-44The American Lung Association’s 2016 “State of the Air” report found continued improvement in air quality, but more than half (52.1%) of the people in the United States live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution. The annual, national air quality “report card” found that 166 million Americans live with unhealthful levels of air pollution, putting them at risk for premature death and other serious health effects like lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm.

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Each year the “State of the Air” reports on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution and particle pollution. The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution. Both ozone and particle pollution are dangerous to public health and can be lethal. But the trends reported in this year’s report, which covers data collected in 2012-2014, are strikingly different for these pollutants.

According to this year’s 17th annual report, short-term spikes in particle pollution have gotten worse since the 2015 report, including in the city with the worst particle pollution problem, Bakersfield, Calif. For multiple cities that suffered spikes in particle pollution during this period, many of these spikes were directly linked to weather patterns like drought or to events like wildfires, which are likely to increase because of climate change.

Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-Term Particle Pollution (24-hour PM2.5):

  1. Bakersfield, Calif.
  2. Fresno-Madera, Calif.
  3. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
  4. Modesto-Merced, Calif.
  5. Fairbanks, Ala.
  6. Salt lake City-Provo-Orem, Utah
  7. Logan, Utah-Idaho
  8. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif.
  9. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
  10. Missoula, Mont.

Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution (Annual PM2.5):

  1. Bakersfield, Calif.
  2. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
  3. Fresno-Madera, Calif.
  4. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
  5. El Centro, Calif.
  6. (tied) Modesto-Merced, Calif.
  7. (tied) San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif.
  8. Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, Pa.-Ohio-W. Va.
  9. Harrisburg-York-Lebanon, Pa.
  10. Louisville-Jefferson
  11. County-Elizabethtown-Madison, KY-IN

According to the 2016 report, six cities reported their fewest unhealthy ozone days ever, including #1 Los Angeles, and 15 others improved over the previous report’s data. Ozone pollution has decreased because the nation has cleaned up major sources of the emissions that create ozone, especially coal-fired power plants and vehicles. However, climate change causes greater heat, which makes ozone form. When a person inhales ozone pollution, it can cause coughing, trigger asthma attacks, and even shorten life.

Top 10 Most Ozone-Polluted Cities:

  1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
  2. Bakersfield, Calif.
  3. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
  4. Fresno-Madera, Calif.
  5. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.
  6. Sacramento-Roseville, Calif.
  7. Modesto-Merced, Calif.
  8. Denver-Aurora, Colo.
  9. Las Vegas-Henderson, Nev.-Ariz.
  10. Fort Collins, Colo.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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