The effective manner in which the US has dealt with air pollution in cities since the passage of the Clean Air Act is a point of pride for environmentalists as well as legislators. But that's not to say that pollution doesn't persist in many parts of the nation -- far from it. One recent report found that a staggering 175 million Americans -- 6 out of 10 people -- live in areas where particulate pollution reaches dangerous levels. The AP has the story, via NPR:
Six in 10 Americans -- about 175 million people -- are living in places where air pollution often reaches dangerous levels, despite progress in reducing particle pollution, the American Lung Association said in a report released Wednesday. The Los Angeles area had the nation's worst ozone pollution.Such particulate pollution is blamed for the premature death of thousands of Americans every year -- the California Air Resources Board estimates in that state alone there are 18,000 annually.
The report examined fine particulate matter over 24-hour periods and as a year-round average. Bakersfield, Calif., had the worst short-term particle pollution, and the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area of Arizona had the worst year-round particle pollution.
And the national report warns that 30 million people live in areas where chronic pollution is heavy enough to be downright dangerous. In such regions, even when pollution is at its lower levels, the particulates in the air are enough to cause "asthma, lung damage and premature death."
In other words, it may be time to find more information about the level of air pollution in your area -- and we may have made significant strides in cleaning up the air since the 70s, but there's a ways to go yet.