How’s the Air Out There?

Annual Report Shows Cities with Cleanest & Most Polluted Air

(April 25, 2012)

State of the Air 2012We all have to share the air we breathe– and the air out there eventually becomes the air in you. That’s why knowing your area’s air quality is important. The just-released thirteenth annual State of the Air report finds both big improvements and continuing threats. When you check it out, you’ll learn that where you live has a big impact on whether the air you breathe is healthy or hazardous.

State of the Air 2012 takes a close look at air quality across the country and ranks cities and counties for two of the most widespread types of air pollution - ozone (smog) and particle pollution (soot). Is your city on America’s most polluted list? Find out here.

Steady Progress
This year’s report found that air quality is the best we’ve seen in the majority of American cities that are most-polluted by ozone or year-round particle pollution. Although they still have unhealthy air quality, they show continued progress in the cleanup of ozone smog and particle pollution. This steady progress toward more healthy air proves that the Clean Air Act is working.

State of the Air 2012 highlights improvements for several areas:

  • Eighteen of the 25 cities most polluted by ozone, including Los Angeles, had their lowest smog levels since the first State of the Air report was published in 2000.
  • Seventeen of the 25 cities with the worst annual particle pollution saw their lowest-ever levels, including Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
  • Four cities—Pittsburgh, San Diego, Philadelphia and Visalia (Calif.), had their lowest-ever short-term particle pollution level.


State of the Air shows us that we’re making real and steady progress in cutting dangerous pollution from the air we breathe,” said Charles D. Connor, American Lung Association President and CEO. “We owe this to the ongoing success of the Clean Air Act in cleaning up coal-fired power plants, diesel emissions and other pollution sources of deadly air pollution.  That’s why we must continue to defend the Clean Air Act. The health of all Americans, and particularly children, whose lungs are still developing, is at stake.”

Threats Continue
Despite these improvements, in some areas the air quality actually worsened and more than 40 percent of people in the U.S. still live in areas where air pollution threatens their health.  The Clean Air Act has improved our air – and health – for more than 40 years. But big polluters and some members of Congress are now proposing changes to the law that would weaken these safeguards. Efforts to weaken this vital public health law pose real threats to our nation - especially the 127 million people who still live in areas with levels of ozone and/or particle pollution that are often dangerous to breathe.

You Can Help
Want to help protect the air we all share? Here’s what you can do:

  • Tell Congress about how important healthy air is for you.   Click here to send a message to Congress about protecting the Clean Air Act. Take time there to share your story about why healthy air matters to you and your family.
  • Take steps to clean up the air in your community and to protect your family: drive less; walk, bike, carpool or take transit. Don’t burn wood or trash. Make sure your local school system uses clean school buses. Use less electricity. Don’t’ exercise on high pollution days and never exercise near busy freeways.
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @LungAssociation for much more information about lung health.
  • Make a financial contribution to the American Lung Association to support our fight for clean and healthy air at lung.org.