Smog Report: Half of U.S. Still Flunks
L.A. Still Tops Lung Association 'Worst Air' List
May 1, 2003 -- Smog threatens the health of nearly half of all
Americans, according to the American Lung Association's State of the Air 2003
The report examines air quality data for 1999-2001, the most
recent data from the EPA. It ranks air quality for ozone pollution.
Los Angeles holds on to its top ranking as the U.S. city with
the worst air. Portland, Ore., and San Francisco are the two largest cities
among the 20 cities with the best air.
The release of the report also marks the beginning of the
annual ozone season, when the summer heat traditionally increases the level of
The ALA's annual report looks at ozone levels across the
country. Ozone, one of the most toxic ingredients in the soupy air we all know
as smog, is a form of oxygen that even at low levels can cause health problems
such as shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.
This year, the nation's air got a little bit better -- but
that's only because of lucky weather, says ALA president John Kirkwood. Yet the
report showed that 55% of counties with ozone monitors received an "F"
rating on air quality.
"We can point to no significant ozone improvements other
than a few lucky changes in the weather," Kirkwood says in a news release.
"We can't depend on Mother Nature to protect Americans from disease and
death caused by breathing human-made smog. It's time to fight for our right to
breathe clean air and for America to solve the air pollution problems that
The report is highly critical of the Bush administration's
efforts to "repeal, weaken, and delay" the nation's Clean Air Act.
This year's 20 most polluted metropolitan areas are:
- Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, Calif.
- Fresno, Calif.
- Bakersfield, Calif.
- Visalia-Tulare-Porterville, Calif.
- Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, Texas
- Sacramento-Yolo, Calif.
- Merced, Calif.
- Atlanta, Ga.
- Knoxville, Tenn.
- Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, N.C.-S.C.
- Washington-Baltimore, D.C.-Md.-Va.-W.V.
- Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas
- Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md.
- New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, Conn.-N.J.-N.Y.
- Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.
- Baton Rouge, La.
- Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point, N.C.
- Memphis, Tenn.-Ark.-Miss.
- Birmingham, Ala.
- San Diego, Calif.
And the 20 metro areas with the least ozone air pollution, in
- Bellingham, Wash.
- Brownsville-Harlingen-San Benito, Texas
- Colorado Springs, Colo.
- Duluth-Superior, Minn.-Wis.
- Elkhart-Goshen, Ind.
- Eugene-Springfield, Ore.
- Fargo-Moorhead, N.D.-Minn.
- Flagstaff, Ariz.-Utah
- Greeley, Colo.
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Laredo, Texas
- Lincoln, Neb.
- Medford-Ashland, Ore.
- Portland-Salem, Ore.-Wash.
- Salinas, Calif.
- San Francisco
- San Luis Obispo-Atascadero-Paso Robles, Calif.
- Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.
- Sioux Falls, S.D.
- Spokane, Wash.