American Lung Association Takes a Deep Breath with State of the Air Report

Taking a breath of fresh air, the State of the Air Report for 2011 focuses on ozone and particle pollution levels measured at official monitoring sites across the United States over a cascading three year (2007, 2008 and 2009) period. Subsequently, each new report reflects the compilation of a new year of data while removing the oldest data.

Fifteen of the 25 most (air) polluted metropolitan areas in the United States reported the lowest ozone readings/scores since the inception of the report. They include New York, NY; Dallas-Fort Worth, TX; Philadelphia, PA; Atlanta, GA; Pittsburgh, PA; Knoxville, TN; Houston, TX; Sacramento, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Bakersfield, CA; Fresno, CA; El Centro, CA; Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA; Phoenix, AZ and Las Vegas, NV.

According to the report, these air quality improvement scenarios are the result of reduced coal-fired power plant emissions and cleaner diesel fuels/engines.

The only two metro areas in the country on the 25 worst list that reported worse levels were Bakersfield, CA and Hanford, CA. Concurrently, Bakersfield, CA now sits alone atop the worst polluted cities in America list.

Four cities were ranked as cleanest for ozone and short-term particle pollution. They are Brownsville, TX; Spokane, WA; Monroe, LA; and Lincoln, NE.

Focusing on population perspectives, the report indicated: 50.3% of the people in the United States live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution. Roughly half, or 48.2% reside in areas with unhealthy ozone levels. The two most relevant health concerns regarding air quality are Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema.

The report cites several areas for continued support and action to enable further air quality improvement: Protecting the Clean Air Act Continued emissions reductions at coal-fired power plants Continued retirement and replacement of older, less clean diesel vehicles and related equipment Strengthen ozone standards Strengthen particle pollution standards Reduce harmful tailpipe emissions