‘State of the Air 2017’ – Who’s Best and Worst?

04/19/2017 09:40 am ET

The American Lung Association’s 18th annual “State of the Air” report, released today, couldn’t be more important, because the Clean Air Act – the law that works to make the air we all breathe clean and healthy – is under relentless attack. The 2017 “State of the Air” report finds that despite improvements in many areas, 4 in 10 Americans live in counties with unhealthful levels of air pollution, putting them at risk for premature death and other serious health effects like lung cancer, asthma attacks and cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm.

Thanks to the success of the Clean Air Act, “State of the Air” 2017 shows continued improvements in both ozone (smog) pollution and year-round particle pollution (soot). This is Important because both ozone and particle pollution can harm your health, and even shorten lives. However, increased spikes in short-term particle pollution have offset some of those gains. Furthermore, we may even lose ground in the future. The impacts of climate change, including warmer temperatures and attempts by the president and Congress to slash funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may make it even harder to continue making progress in the fight for healthy air. “State of the Air” tells how much of each type of pollution is in the air where you live and breathe.

“State of the Air” has a wealth of important information. We invite you to visit Lung.org/sota to learn more about your local air quality, how it affects your health, where it comes from, and who is most at risk. You can even find your city’s information and compare it to others. Another way to get a good snapshot of this report is to look at our lists for cities with the least and most polluted air.

Cleanest Cities

Identifying the cleanest cities is easy, because we found that six cities had no days when ozone or particle pollution reached unhealthy levels and had the lowest year-round levels of particle pollution as well.

Top Cleanest U.S. Cities (listed in alphabetical order)

  • Burlington-South Burlington, Vt
  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers-Naples, Fla
  • Elmira-Corning, N.Y.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla.
  • Wilmington, N.C.

Most Polluted Cities

For most-polluted cities, we need to look at each of the three categories.

Top Five Most Ozone-Polluted Cities

  1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
  2. Bakersfield, Calif.
  3. Fresno-Madera, Calif.
  4. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
  5. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.

Top Five Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution

  1. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
  2. Bakersfield, Calif.
  3. Fresno-Madera, Calif.
  4. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif.
  5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.

Top Five Cities Most Polluted by Short-Term Particle Pollution

  1. Bakersfield, Calif.
  2. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
  3. Fresno-Madera, Calif.
  4. Modesto-Merced, Calif.
  5. Fairbanks, Ala.

American Lung Association volunteers tell why healthy air matters to them.

If the city where you live lands on one of these lists, you have many reasons to get involved to protect or to clean up your air. You can help! Join us in the effort to make sure every breath you take is a healthy one.

Our nation’s leaders must step up to protect the health of all Americans. We urge President Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and members of Congress to fully fund, implement and enforce the Clean Air Act for all pollutants – including those that drive climate change and make it harder to achieve healthy air for all. Send a message to them today.

Our volunteers have a long history of telling their stories about healthy air. Watch some of our volunteers sending that message today in this video.

Everyone has the right to breathe healthy air, and the American Lung Association continues to fight for safeguards that ensure cleaner, healthier air for all Americans.

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