Map Shows the Country's Dirtiest Air: Are You In a Deadly Zone?

© American Lung Association

Yesterday, the EPA announced the first-ever limits for greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired power plants, and it's a big deal. The Washington Post explains more about the announcement, which is getting reactions from all sides of the political spectrum because it could mean the end for new coal plants in the U.S.:

The proposed rule — years in the making and approved by the White House after months of review — will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.

But as a reminder that this isn't just a numbers game, that power plants and air pollution generally have real impacts on human health, the map above from the American Lung Association is a pretty great illustration of how power plant pollution spreads—or concentrates—around the country.

And, a statement announcing the map explained, the map was released just before the House Energy and Power Subcommittee is set to hold a hearing on the Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012, "which would eliminate life-saving clean air protections that reduce toxic pollution in our air. This roll-back is at serious odds with new polling data from the Lung Association showing that two-thirds of American voters support even stricter EPA standards on pollution."

Visit the American Lung Association to learn more about healthy air—or TreeHugger to learn about the problems with coal.

Tags: Air Pollution | Air Quality | Coal