Over 120 million Americans, or more than 1 in 3, are exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report.
The report grades dangerous levels of ground-level ozone air pollution, annual particle pollution, and short-term spikes in pollution from 2019-21.
The worst 25 counties for short-term particle pollution were located in the West, with more than 18 million people in the region ranging from Arizona to Nevada living in counties with three grades of F. Almost all of the cities listed in the most polluted list were in California, with the rest being in Alaska and Arizona.
The cleanest cities were: Asheville-Marion-Brevard, NC; Bangor, ME; Greenville-Kinston-Washington, NC; Lincoln-Beatrice, NE; Rochester-Batavia-Seneca Falls, NY; Urban Honolulu, HI; and Wilmington, NC.
The report also highlighted that air pollution affects people of color more than white people. More than 64 million of the people living in areas with poor air quality belong to communities of color, and are more likely to live in counties with a failing grade for at least one measure of pollution. In fact, they are 3.7 times more likely to live in counties with an F for all three metrics compared to their white counterparts.
Although the report provides some good news- the fact that ozone pollution has generally improved across the nation thanks to the Clean Air Act, the National President and CEO of the American Lung Association, Harold Wimmer stresses the importance of continuing efforts to ensure every person has clean air to breathe.