Regarding American Lung Association annual air report there is good and bad news

SMOG_-_NARA_-_542581.tif[1]The American Lung Association (ALA) in its “State of the Air 2013” report, released Apr. 24th, found that better than 40 percent of all Americans breathe unhealthy air. On the other hand, for the nation in general, related air quality news was much more promising.

“This year’s report reveals that many places made strong progress, particularly in lower year-round levels of particle pollution, compared to last year’s report,” the ALA in a press release dated Apr. 24, 2013 stated. “Lower particle pollution levels are a direct result of emissions reductions from the transition to cleaner diesel fuels and engines and coal-fired power plants, especially in the eastern United States.”

Yes, significant progress was made with respect to “year-round particle pollution (soot)” reduction. Yet, despite this improvement, at the same time, according to the ALA, many cities known for having notoriously bad air experienced greater numbers of unhealthy days for both high ozone (smog) concentrations and short-term particulate pollution compared to what the Association’s findings were for those same pollutants in 2012, though on a national scale, overall, the long-term trend is toward healthier air.

According to the ALA, 42 percent of the entire U.S. population or 131.8 million Americans reside in counties that experience unhealthy ozone or particle pollution levels. Meanwhile, in counties in which eight percent of the U.S. population resides (or close to 24.8 million Americans), “ozone, short-term and year-round particle pollution” are at unhealthy levels. And, on the bright side, for 18 cities recorded year-round particle pollution levels were lower and in 16 of those, year-round particle pollution levels were at their lowest recorded levels.

Added ALA Chief Executive Officer and National President Harold Wimmer in the “American Lung Association ‘State of the Air 2013’ Report Finds Air Quality Improves Nationwide Despite More Spikes in Unhealthy Air Days” Apr. 24, 2013 press release: “‘Even in parts of the country that experienced increases in unhealthy days of high ozone and short-term particle pollution, they still have better air quality compared to a decade ago. But the work is not done, and the Environmental Protection Agency must continue the work necessary to achieve the promise of the Clean Air Act; healthy air that is safe for all to breathe.’”

Information presented in the release reveals that among the nation’s “Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-term Particle Pollution (24-hour PM 2.5)” were the California regions of Bakersfield-Delano, Fresno-Madera, Hanford-Corcoran, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Merced and Modesto.

Those regions plus Visalia-Porterville and El Centro in the Golden State as well, also made the ALA’s “Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution (Annual PM 2.5)” list.

Added to those in the “Top 10 Most Ozone-Polluted Cities” category (and rounding out the listing) was the Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City region. Not among the “Top 10” for ozone, however, were Merced and Modesto.

On the opposite side of the coin, regions such as Bismarck, North Dakota; Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida; Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida; and Rapid City, South Dakota, made the Association’s four “cleanest cities” list.

In no uncertain terms, the American Lung Association emphasized, “Safeguards are necessary to protect the health of nearly 132 million people living in counties with dangerous levels of either ozone or particle pollution that can cause wheezing and coughing, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature death. Those at greatest risk from air pollution include infants, children, older adults, anyone with lung diseases like asthma, people with heart disease or diabetes, people with low incomes and anyone who works or exercises outdoors.”

For more on the state of United States air, see: “State of the Air 2013” States Map.

Image at top: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

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