Polluted Cities Listed In The State Of The Air Report
The “State of the Air 2017” report shows that cleaning up pollution continues successfully in much of the nation. In the 25 cities with the worst ozone and year-round particle pollution, the majority saw improvements from last year. Many again reached their lowest levels ever of these widespread air pollutants.
"State of the Air" 2017 shows that more than four in 10 people had unhealthy air quality in their communities.
Yet, even as most cities experienced strong improvement, too many cities suffered worse episodes of unhealthy air. While most of the nation has much cleaner air quality than even a decade ago, many cities reported their highest number of unhealthy days since the report began, including some that experienced extreme weather events.
The “State of the Air 2017” report shows that, even with continued improvement, too many people in the United States live where the air is unhealthy for them to breathe. Despite that continued need and the nation’s progress, some people seek to weaken the Clean Air Act, the public health law that has driven the cuts in pollution since 1970, and to undermine the ability of the nation to fight for healthy air.
The “State of the Air 2017” report looks at levels of ozone and particle pollution found in official monitoring sites across the United States in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The report uses the most current quality-assured nationwide data available for these analyses.
The report examines particle pollution (PM2.5) in two different ways: averaged year-round (annual average) and over short-term levels (24-hour). For both ozone and short-term particle pollution, the analysis uses a weighted average number of days that allows recognition of places with higher levels of pollution. For the year-round particle pollution rankings, the report uses averages calculated and reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For comparison, the “State of the Air 2016” report covered data from 2012, 2013, and 2014.
The "State of the Air 2017" found continued improvement in air quality in 2013—2015 in ozone and year-round particle pollution, but an unrelenting increase in dangerous spikes in particle pollution. The number of people exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution dropped to more than 125 million people, from 166 million in the years covered in the 2016 report (2012—2014).
Overall, the best progress came in the continued reduction of ozone and year-round particle pollution, thanks to cleaner power plants and increased use of cleaner vehicles and engines. Continued progress to cleaner air remains crucial to reduce the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and lung cancer. However, a changing climate is making it harder to protect human health.
Nearly 4 in 10 people (38.9 percent) in the United States live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution. More than 125 million Americans live in 204 counties where they are exposed to unhealthful levels of air pollution in the form of either ozone or short-term or year-round levels of particles.
Still, this represents a major improvement: One-quarter fewer people now live where the air quality hit unhealthy levels in 2013—2015 than in the 2016 report. In last year’s report, covering 2012-2014, more than 166 million Americans lived in counties with unhealthful levels of air pollution.
More than 18 million people (5.6 percent) live in 12 counties with unhealthful levels of all three: ozone and short-term and year-round particle pollution. This is nearly 1.9 million fewer people than in the 2016 report when approximately 6.3 percent were exposed. However, we continue to lack data on particle pollution in all or parts of two states.
California again leads list with 6 of the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities.
California's smoggy reputation appears to be deserved: Six of the USA's 10 cities with the worst air pollution are in the Golden State. Bakersfield, Calif., again holds the dubious distinction of having the USA's most days of highly polluted air, based on data from 2013-2015, the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report released Wednesday found.
In addition to the worst spikes of short-term pollution — led by Bakersfield — the report also lists the cities with the worst overall year-round pollution — led by Visalia/Hanford, Calif.— and the worst ozone pollution, led by the Los Angeles/Long Beach area.
California's soaring population and topography allow air pollution to overcome the state's strict environmental laws, said Paul Billings of the American Lung Association. The boom in people brings with it an increase in cars and trucks on the roads, and many of those people live in valley and basins, right where pollution tends to settle.
Nearly year-round sunny skies also don't help: Those picture-perfect days are a major factor in high levels of ozone pollution, he added.
The state would be far worse off without its strict laws on tailpipe pollution and eliminating coal-fired power plants. "They've done more than any other state to counteract air pollution," Billings said.
Overall, the report is a mixture of good and bad news: While year-round pollution has improved, short-term spikes of intensely polluted air have increased.
"While most of the nation has much cleaner air quality than even a decade ago, many cities reported their highest number of unhealthy days since the report began" 18 years ago, it found.
Some 125 million Americans nationwide live with unhealthful levels of air pollution, the report said, placing them at risk for premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage and developmental and reproductive harm.
"Even with continued improvement, too many people in the United States live where the air is unhealthy for them to breathe," the report said.Only six metro areas recorded no days when pollution reached unhealthy levels, according to the report: Burlington, Vt.; Honolulu; Wilmington, N.C.; Fort Myers / Naples, Fla.; Melbourne, Fla., and Elmira, N.Y.
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- Administration Staff