"State of the Air" – Much Progress but Challenges Remain

(April 24, 2013)

The American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" report finds that air quality nationwide continues the long-term trend to much healthier air. The strongest progress came in lower levels of year-round particle pollution across much of the nation. Still, many cities that ranked among the most polluted had more unhealthy days of high ozone and short-term particle pollution than in the 2012 report.

"State of the Air 2013" is the Lung Association's 14th annual, national air quality "report card." It uses the most recent air pollution data, compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the two most widespread types of pollution - ozone (smog) and particle pollution (PM 2.5, also known as soot). The report grades counties and ranks cities and counties based on their scores for ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution levels.

What did "State of the Air 2013" find?

  • More than 131 million people (42 percent of the U.S. population) live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution.
  • Four cities made all three of the cleanest cities lists, the highest number ever to land on all three lists.
  • One city has cut one-third of its unhealthy ozone days since first State of the Air report came out in 2000.
  • Eighteen cities had lower year-round levels of particle pollution, including 16 cities with their lowest levels recorded.

Is your city on America's most polluted list? Or are you in one of our cleanest cities? Find out here.

Someone you love is likely at higher risk

Air pollution remains a pervasive health threat. You probably know someone on the list below who faces a higher risk from air pollution (maybe including you!):

  • infants, children, teenagers and older adults
  • anyone with lung diseases like asthma or COPD,
  • people with heart disease or diabetes,
  • people with low incomes, and
  • anyone who works or exercises outdoors.

Dangerous levels of ozone or particle pollution can cause wheezing and coughing, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature death. Learn more about the health risks of air pollution.

Want to learn more?

Visit www.stateoftheair.org to see how your community ranks and to learn how to protect yourself and your family from air pollution.

You Can Help

Want to help protect the air we all share? Here's what you can do:

  • Urgent! Tell the President that we need cleaner gasoline and vehicles to cut pollution all across the nation. For about a penny a gallon, we can all breathe a lot easier.
  • 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.