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American Lung Association says over 137 million people in United States are living with poor air quality

In its annual State of the Air report, the American Lung Association said this week over 137 million people in the United States are living in areas where the air quality is low and pollutants in the air are high.

The ALA report concluded that in spite of “decades of progress on cleaning up sources of air pollution, more than 40% of Americans—over 137 million people—are living in places with failing grades for unhealthy levels of particle pollution or ozone.”

The report continued, “This is 2.1 million more people breathing unhealthy air compared to last year’s report. Nearly 9 million more people were impacted by daily spikes in deadly particle pollution than reported last year. In the three years covered by this report, Americans experienced more days of ‘very unhealthy’ and ‘hazardous’ air quality than ever before in the two-decade history of ‘State of the Air.'” 

The ALA says wildfires are contributing to the increase of 9 million people from last year who are living in counties whose air quality is low. The measure is based on the presence of deadly particulate matter that includes dust, ash, soot and metals.

The ALA also points out that while much progress has been made on the level of ozone, “Simply, climate change is undercutting the progress we would have made.”

The report shows some cities and regions have done the hard work over the years to go from failing to passing grades when it comes to air quality. “The geographical distribution of cities with the worst ozone problems continues a trend seen over the past six reports: fewer eastern cities and more western cities,” the report reads.

“Oil and gas extraction and population growth in the Southwest and improved cleanup of power plants in the East have shifted the cities that experienced the greatest number of unhealthy ozone days.”

There is still much work to be done, however. In its recommendations for ways to improve a county’s air quality grade, the ALA says the Clean Air Act is to thank for much of the improvement already seen. Cutting air pollution through the Clean Air Act was projected to prevent over 230,000 deaths and save nearly $2 trillion in 2020 alone, according to the report.

ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS

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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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