Posted on May 04, 2023, 5 p.m.
The more we learn about the air we are breathing the better we can protect our health and take steps to help make the air both cleaner and healthier for everyone now as well as in the future. For these reasons, the American Lung Association has been analyzing data from various official air quality monitors for 24 years to compile the State of the Air Report.
This report provides data on the cleanest cities and the most polluted cities, report cards on air quality for states and counties, ozone air pollution, and helps you to compare how the air you are breathing in your city measures when it comes to air pollution, as well as information on health impacts, recommendations, and other valuable insights.
According to this report Albany-Schenectady, NY, Asheville-Marion-Brevard, NC, Bangor, ME, Bellingham, WA, and Blacksburg-Christiansburg, VA are the top 5 cleanest American cities by Ozone Air Pollution. Wilmington, NC, Williamsport-Lock Haven, PA, Wausau-Stevens Point-Wisconsin Rapids, WI, Watertown-Fort Drum, NY, and Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA round off the bottom 25.
Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI, Urban Honolulu, HI, Cheyenne, WY, Wilmington, NC, and Bangor, ME are the top 5 Cleanest U.S. Cities by Year-round Particle Pollution. At the bottom of this list of 25, Bismarck, ND is ranked 21st, while Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA, Lima-Van Wert-Celina, OH, Lincoln-Beatrice, NE, and Rochester-Batavia-Seneca Falls, NY round up the bottom all being tied for the 22nd ranking.
The top 5 most polluted cities by ozone are listed as #1: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA, #2: Visalia, CA, #3: Bakersfield, CA, #4: Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA, and #5: Phoenix-Mesa, AZ.
The top 5 most polluted cities by year-round particle pollution are: Bakersfield, CA, Visalia, CA, Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA, Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA, and Fairbanks, AK.
The top 5 most polluted cities by short-term particle pollution are: #1: Bakersfield, CA, #2: Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA, #3: Fairbanks, AK, #4: Visalia, CA, and #5: Reno-Carson City-Fernley, NV.
California holds many spots in this report, which really is not always a good thing. Bakersfield, California is 2023’s metropolitan area with the worst short-term particle pollution which displaces Fresno, CA. Bakersfield, California continues to be the most polluted for year-round particle pollution but it shares this spot with Visalia, California in this report. Also continuing to hold the top spot Los Angeles, California retains the title as the city with the worst ozone pollution in America as it has for all but one of the 24 years tracked by the State of the Air Report.
Many cities across the nation enjoy breathing air that is considered to be clean for one or more of the pollution measures in this report. In the 2023 report, 59 cities had 0 high short-term particle days and 80 cities had zero ozone days. Of which there are 7 cities that rank on all three of the cleanest cities lists, 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 State of the Air 2023 Report found that close to 36% of Americans, that’s roughly 119.6 million people, are living in areas with failing grades when it comes to unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution despite decades of progress on cleaning up sources of air pollution. Additionally, the number of people living in counties with a failing grade for daily spikes in particle pollution is 63.7 million people which is the highest ever reported under the current national standard. However, there is some improvement as there are 17.6 million fewer people breathing unhealthy air compared to the last report, and there was improvement seen in falling levels of ozone in many places across the nation which is a continuation of a positive trend.
For those wanting to find out more about air quality facts, impacts, recommendations, and trends, as well as other valuable insights, or for those who are curious on how the area they live in rates in The State of the Air 2023 Report that was created by the American Lung Association please click here to view the full free report.
Tying into the important topic, we were recently contacted by Liam Henderson from the University of Southern California to inform us of a new free resource guide that they have created on air pollution. “Measuring air pollution is crucial for understanding its impact on human health and the environment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is responsible for 4.2 million premature deaths each year worldwide. In the United States, approximately 137 million people live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution, and it is estimated that air pollution contributes to over 100,000 deaths each year. I think once you get the chance to review this resource, you’ll find it provides valuable insights about the urgent need for effective measures to reduce air pollution and protect public health,” says Henderson.
For those looking to find out more about air pollution please click here to view an informative guide that was created by the University of Southern California called “How to Measure Air Pollution and Its Effects”. The guide contains information on the types of air pollution, the importance of measuring it, methods of measurement, and factors that influence air pollution, among other important information.
Millions of people are vulnerable to the effects of air pollution including children, older adults, and those with asthma or lung diseases. Breathing in ozone can irritate the lungs which results in inflammation, coughing, pain, and breathing issues. Breathing in particle pollution can increase the risk of lung cancer, early death, heart attacks, strokes, and emergency room visits. You can help to protect yourself by checking the air quality forecast for your area and avoiding exercising or working outdoors when unhealthy air is predicted.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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