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State of America's Air? Potentially Dangerous

More Than Half of Americans Live in Areas With Unhealthy Air Pollution
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Air Pollution Health Threats Growing continued...

The 25 best and worst metropolitan areas in terms of year-round particle pollution were:

 

Areas Most Polluted by Particle Pollution

 

Cleanest Cities for Particle Pollution

Rank

Metropolitan Area

Rank

Metropolitan Area

1

Los-Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA

1

Santa Fe-Espanola, NM

2

Visalia-Porterville, CA

2

Honolulu, HI

3

Bakersfield, CA

3

Cheyenne, WY

4

Fresno-Madera, CA

4

Great Falls, MT

5

Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA

5

Farmington, NM

6

Detroit-Warren-Flint, MI

5

Anchorage, AK

7

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Gainesville, GA

5

Albuquerque, NM

8

Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, OH

8

Bismarck, ND

9

Hanford-Corcoran, CA

9

Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, WA

9

Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, AL

10

Lubbock-Levelland, TX

11

Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, OH-KY-IN

10

Billings, MT

12

Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette, TN

12

Idaho Falls-Blackfoot, ID

13

Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH

13

Grand Junction, CO

14

Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City, IL-IN

13

Colorado Springs, CO

15

Canton-Massillon, OH

15

Bellingham, WA

16

Charleston, WV

16

Rapid City, SD

17

Modesto, CA

16

Fargo-Wahpeton, ND-MN

18

New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ--CT

18

Pueblo, CO

19

Merced, CA

19

Fort Collins-Loveland, CO

20

St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, MO-IL

20

Salem, OR

21

Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, DC-MD-VA

21

Duluth, MN-WI

22

Louisville-Elizabethtown-Scottsburg, KY-IN

22

Albany-Corvallis-Lebanon, OR

23

York-Hanover-Gettysburg, PA

23

Salinas, CA

24

Lancaster, PA

24

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL

25

Columbus-Marion-Chillicothe, OH

25

Port St. Lucie-Fort Pierce, FL

 

Previous reports were based on traditional air analysis of ozone air pollution. Ozone pollutant, or smog, is created from the action of sunlight and heat on vapors and noxious gases from fuel combustion, such as automobile exhaust systems, power plants, and other sources. When it is inhaled it reacts with tissues in the body and causes irritation, shortness of breath, pain when breathing deeply, wheezing, coughing, and an increased risk of lung infections.

Reducing Air Pollution Risks

Researchers say although ozone and particle pollution can threaten anyone's health over the long term, certain groups of people face greater health risks, including:

  • Children
  • Elderly

  • People with breathing problems, such as asthma or lung disease

  • People with heart disease

  • Adults who are active outdoors, such as outdoor workers or exercisers

These groups may be the first to feel the effects of air pollution and should take extra steps to protect themselves. Those measures include:

  • Check the daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts. Many weather reports include this information, and they are also available online at www.epa.gov/airnow.
  • Be aware of smog levels during hot weather. Ozone smog peaks during the spring and summer months from May to October.

  • If the day's ozone level is unhealthy, adjust activities for the day to reduce exposure to outdoor air. Avoid vigorous activity outdoors or plan the most strenuous activity early in the morning before ozone levels climb.

  • If the day's particle pollution levels are high, adjust the day's plan to stay away from high-traffic areas and avoid exercising in these areas.

  • Take steps to reduce particle pollution at home, such as eliminate smoking indoors, vent all gas or other combustion appliances directly to the outdoors, and do not burn wood.

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