Air report findings cause for optimism, concern

It just so happens, the release on Apr. 30th of the American Lung Association’s (ALA) report “STATE OF THE AIR® 2014” coincides with Air Quality Awareness Week (AQAW) 2014 and with Day-3 (Wednesday) of AQAW in particular. I wonder if it was planned this way on purpose or if this was just a coincidence. No matter.

“The 15th annual national report card shows that while the nation overall continued to reduce particle pollution, a pollutant recently found to cause lung cancer, poor air quality remains a significant public health concern and a changing climate threatens to make it harder to protect human health,” the ALA reported in “American Lung Association ‘State of the Air 2014’ Shows Half the U.S. Lives with Unhealthy Air” press release, released Apr. 30th. “Especially alarming is that levels of ozone (smog), a powerful respiratory irritant and the most widespread air pollutant, were much worse than in the previous year’s report.”

Is this declaration surprising? Not to me it isn’t. However, it is a glaring one – and a stark reminder that ozone levels have been worsening as opposed to improving.

So, what else is different in this year’s report compared to 2013’s? And, what hasn’t changed?


There were a reported 147.6 million people living with levels of unhealthful ozone or particle pollution (reported in 2014) versus 131.8 million (reported in 2013) or a nearly 12 percent jump.

Over 27.8 million people in 17 counties or approximately 8.9 percent of the U.S. population breathe unhealthy air (reported in 2014) versus 24.8 million or 8 percent of the nation’s population (reported in 2013).

The ALA in the same release further stated:

“Twenty-two of the 25 most ozone-polluted cities in the 2014 report – including Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago – had more high ozone days on average when compared to the 2013 report.

“Thirteen of the 25 cities with the worst year-round particle pollution reached their lowest levels yet, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Bakersfield.”


Where metro regions are concerned, Los Angeles is ranked worst for ozone pollution. L.A. has been consistent in maintaining this status as reported in 14 of the 15 total “State of the Air” reports.

“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,” identical to the wording used by the ALA last year.

Needs improvement

“While particle pollution levels generally showed improvement, ozone worsened in the most polluted metropolitan areas in 2010-2012 compared to 2009-2011,” the ALA in the release noted. “The warm summers in 2010 and 2012 contributed to higher ozone readings and more frequent high ozone days.”

As for ozone, it not only being America’s most common air contaminant, having the tendency to cause air damage and discoloration and posing a threat to human, animal and plant health, these factors, in and of themselves, should provide the rallying cry (impetus) to do everything possible to try to mitigate its presence once and for all. For that matter, fine particulate matter, undetectable to the human eye, should not be let out of our sights either.

For more on the American Lung Association’s “STATE OF THE AIR® 2014” report, go here.

– Alan Kandel

4 thoughts on “Air report findings cause for optimism, concern”

  1. Pollution is the introduction of harmful substances in the natural environment, although there are different types of pollution air pollution seems to be the one having a lot of adverse effects on humans and the ecosystem. Air pollution is mainly caused by human activities and the major primary pollutants produced by human activities include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide , nitrogen dioxide ,etc. The CFCs are harmful to the ozone layer these are the gases released from the air conditioners and refrigerators and they rise to the stratosphere and combine with other gases and cause damage to the ozone layer (ozone depletion) . We all know that the damage done to the ozone layer causes the harmful ultraviolet rays to reach the surface of the earth which leads to skin cancer, eye diseases and causes damage to plants.

  2. Air pollution is a mayor problem in the world today and can threaten every living thing on our planet. Without clean air our health will continue to worsen. Asthma, cancer and other lung diseases will get worse with the growing pollution and other worse diseases will start to develop. The disintegration of the ozone layer will contribute to skin cancer because there isn’t any protection against UV-rays anymore. Everyone will be at risk and it is our duty to find ways to prevent these disastrous effects. We should make laws to lessen pollution and everyone should work together to ensure these laws, regardless of the cost because in the end money can’t buy health. We only have one planet and one chance to save it.

  3. Air pollution can result in a number of serious health conditions such as respiratory infections,heart disease, lung cancer , COPD and asthma. The WHO states that 17 million people die each year from causes directly related to air pollution. There is a correlation between pneumonia related deaths and air pollution from motor vehicles. Air pollution is estimated to reduce life expectancy by almost 9 months across the EU.
    THere is no doubt that air pollution control techniques must be stepped up. Strategies such as land use zoning, increasing fuel efficiency and conversion to cleaner fuels and electric vehicle are some of the many ways. There are also pollution control devices that either destroy contaminants or remove them from the exhaust stream before it is released into the atmosphere. Whatever the strategy, we must all become involved since the earth is our one and only home.

  4. I find this posting to be very true.
    I believe that people should be made aware of the shocking consequences that air pollution will have on us all in the future, maybe even near future. Everyone hears about air pollution and other types of pollution but I personally think that they should be shown what will happen, for people usually seeing is believing (and the start of them actually caring and trying to contribute or help). Also I would say that it is hard for lower class people to help with prices as steep as they now are and pockets as empty. People with cars with exhausts that are killing our clean air and who do not have the funds to fix it should be helped by their state and solar panels should be made cheaper so the middle and lower classes can also contribute in that way. If helping the environment and reducing pollution is expensive, only the rich will be able to and they are not enough to make the change this planet needs.

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