Report: 40% of Americans Live in Areas with Unhealthy Air Pollution Levels

Air pollution over Los Angeles at sunset.

Air pollution over Los Angeles at sunset. iStock.com/Csondy

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The American Lung Association ranks the 25 most unhealthy places for air quality and the cities with the cleanest air.

Over 135 million people in the U.S. -- 40% of the population -- are living in places with high levels of ozone and particle pollution, according to a new report released by the American Lung Association.

The report provides a ranking of 25 of the most polluted cities and counties in the country, and lists separate rankings based on ozone air pollution, 24-hour particle pollution and annual particle pollution.

Counties in California are heavily featured on each of the pollution lists. The state had nine of the top 10 areas ranked for the highest ozone pollution. San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Kern and Tulare were all counties and cities in California reported to have the most polluted ozone levels.

Other California counties and cities found to have the worst ozone pollution included Fresno, Nevada, San Diego and Placer. Maricopa County, in Arizona, was the only place outside of California to be ranked in the top 10.  

When it came down to year-round particle pollution California counties were heavily featured again. Kern, Kings, Tulare, Fresno and Plumas rounded out the top five areas raked with the most unhealthy annual particle pollution.

The only places with the highest year-round pollution to be featured in the top 10 were Jackson and Klamath counties in Oregon and Fairbanks North Star Borough in Alaska.

The report also ranked the top five areas considered to have the cleanest air quality: Wilmington, North Carolina; Urban Honolulu, Hawaii; Elmira-Corning, New York; Burlington-South/Burlington-Barre, Vermont; and Charlottesville, Virginia. These cities were placed on the cleanest list because they are considered to have little ozone and short-term pollution, as well as lower year-round particle pollution.

To see more on the rankings click here.

Brent Woodie is an associate editor at Route Fifty.

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