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Half Of All Americans — 148 million — Live With Unhealthy Levels Of Air Pollution

By Countercurrents

30 April, 2014

An American Lung Association (ALA) report said: Nearly half of all Americans, 148 million, are living in areas where smog and soot particles are health risk.

Climate crisis is likely to worsen conditions.

The ALA’s annual study on US air quality report has been released in Wednesday.

The report, which is based on data collected between 2010 and 2012, found smog, or ozone, had worsened in 22 of the 25 biggest US metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Houston, Washington-Baltimore, New York City and Chicago – and said there was a high risk of more high-ozone days because of climate change.

“Weather played a factor,” the report said. “The warmer summers in 2010 and 2012 contributed to higher ozone readings and more frequent ozone days. Sunlight and heat create conditions that increase the risk of high ozone levels.”

Smog, or ozone, which is the most widespread air pollutant, forms more readily in hotter temperatures, and is expected to increase under climate change.

Eighteen of the 25 US cities with the worst particulate pollution saw a drop in year-round particle pollutants because of cuts in emissions for coal-fired power plants and other measures. Thirteen of them, including Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Atlanta, registered their lowest ever levels. But the report said those cities still failed to meet national standards for year-round particle pollution.

ALA’s The State of the Air 2013 report said:

The US air quality is over - all much cleaner, especially compared to just a decade ago. Still, over 131.8 million people — 42 percent of the nation — live where pollution levels are too often dangerous to breathe.

Its findings include:

More than 4 in 10 people (42%) in the US live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution.

Over 131.8 million Americans live in the 254 counties where they are exposed to unhealthful levels of air pollution in the form of either ozone or short-term or year-round levels of particles.

Nearly 4 in 10 people in the US (38%) live in areas with unhealthful levels of ozone.

Counties that were graded F for ozone levels have a combined population of over 119.3 million. These people live in the 191 counties where the monitored air quality places them at risk for premature death, aggravated asthma, difficulty breathing, cardiovascular harm and lower birth weight. The actual number who breathe unhealthy levels of ozone is likely much larger, since this number does not include people who live in adjacent counties in metropolitan
areas where no monitors exist.

Fifteen percent (15%) of people in the US live in an area with too many days of unhealthful levels of particle pollution.

Over 47.7 million Americans live in 58 counties that experienced too many days with unhealthy spikes in particle pollution, a decrease from the last report. Short-term spikes in particle pollution can last from hours to several days and
can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and emergency room visits for asthma and cardiovascular disease, and most importantly, can increase the risk of early death.

Over 44.3 million people (14%) in the United States live in an area with unhealthful year-round levels of particle pollution. These people live in areas where chronic levels are regularly a threat to their health.

There is growing concern globally – including in the US – about the health risks of air pollution.

Scientific research shows that smog and soot are far more harmful at lower levels than previously thought. A growing body of research over the last decade has connected air pollution to increased deaths from heart disease and respiratory illnesses.

The World Health Organisation said last autumn that particulate pollution causes lung cancer.

Air pollution in New Delhi rose to record levels in winter, triggering a debate about whether the Indian capital had now caught up with Beijing.

Meanwhile, California’s pollution control officers warned this month that extreme heat and wildfires could set back decades of improvements in air quality, boosting smog formation and spewing dangerous smoke into the air.



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