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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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U.S. Cities With the Dirtiest Air

American Lung Association Says Los Angeles Has Worst Ozone Levels

Improving Trends continued...

Twenty areas improved year-round levels of particle pollution over 2009.

These included Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Gainesville, Ga., Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, Ohio, Detroit-Warren-Flint, Mich., Indianapolis-Anderson-Columbus, Ind., Louisville-Jefferson County-Elizabethtown-Scottsburg, Ky., Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, Ohio, Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette, Tenn., Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pa., and St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, Mo.

The American Lung Association says all the cities reporting worse year-round particle levels were in California.

The clean-air efforts have especially helped cities in the East and Midwest, such as Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, New York, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area.

Cleanest Cities

According to the American Lung Association, the 10 cleanest cities for long-term particle pollution were:

  1. Cheyenne, Wyo.
  2. Santa Fe-Espanola, N.M.
  3. Honolulu, Hawaii
  4. Anchorage, Alaska (tie)
  5. Great Falls, Mont. (tie)
  6. Tucson, Ariz.
  7. Amarillo, Texas
  8. Albuquerque, N.M.
  9. Flagstaff, Ariz.
  10. Bismarck, N.D.

The cleanest cities in terms of short-term particle pollution were:

  • Alexandria, La.
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Athens-Clarke County, Ga.
  • Austin-Round Rock, Texas
  • Bangor, Maine
  • Billings, Mont.
  • Bloomington-Normal, Ill.
  • Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, Texas
  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.
  • Champaign-Urban, Ill.
  • Cheyenne, Wyo.
  • Claremont-Lebanon, N.H.-Vt.
  • Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Corpus Christi-Kingsville, Texas
  • Fargo-Wahpeton, N.D.-Minn.
  • Farmington, N.M.
  • Fayetteville, N.C.
  • Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.
  • Grand Junction, Colo.
  • Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss.
  • Hattiesburg, Miss.
  • Jackson-Yazoo City, Miss.
  • Lafayette-Acadiana, La.
  • Lincoln, Neb.
  • Longview-Marshall, Texas
  • McAllen-Edinburg-Pharr, Texas
  • Oklahoma City-Shawnee, Okla.
  • Pueblo, Colo.
  • Salinas, Calif.
  • San Luis Obispo-Pasco Robles, Calif.
  • Santa Fe-Espanola, N.M.
  • Sarasota-Bradenton-Punta Gorda, Fla.
  • Springfield, Ill.
  • Springfield, Mo.
  • St. Joseph, Mo.-Kan.
  • Syracuse-Auburn, N.Y.
  • Topeka, Kan.
  • Tucson, Ariz.

Health Impact of Air Pollution

The American Lung Association says breathing tiny particles causes lung inflammation and can trigger and exacerbate diseases like asthma, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The American Lung Association found that 14 of the 25 most ozone-polluted areas had fewer unhealthy days than in last year's report. Still, it said, 167.3 million Americans remain exposed to unhealthy levels of the nation's most widespread outdoor pollutant -- ozone, or smog.

Norman H. Edelman, MD, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, says in a news release that inhaling ozone "irritates your lungs, leaving them with something like a bad sunburn."

Mary H. Partridge, board chair of the American Lung Association, says more needs to be done to clean the nation's air and calls for additional funding to install equipment to clean up 20 million dirty diesel vehicles still on the roads.

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