State and Community

The State of the Air

State of the Air

What grade does your county get for air pollution? Check out the air in other counties in your state, too.  Then click to the map to see the list of the cleanest—and the dirtiest—cities in the nation.  The American Lung Association State of the Air report tells you about the quality of the air where you live. 

Cleaning Up Pollution in Your Community

You can help clean up the air in your community. One way is to get involved in the formal air quality program in your state, county and city. Many have created special citizen committees to advise them. You can share your concerns during their public meetings, even if you aren't on the advisory committee.)

Air quality programs follow three basic steps:

  1. They set the goal. Air quality programs track air pollution with monitors. Using this monitoring information, they compare your community's pollution to the national standards. That comparison shows how much cleaner the air needs to be in your area. Some communities routinely post those air pollution monitor readings online. 
  2. They decide what to clean up. Computer models can help predict future levels of pollution in any given area.  Air quality programs use these tools to work with advisory groups and the public to combat air pollution. They look for ways to cut the most pollution for the best cost. Those discussions result in a plan for the community to follow.
  3. They follow the plan. Air quality programs work to make sure the community stays on track to cut pollution.  They review plans for new or expanding industry to be sure those new sources don't add more pollution. They also review transportation plans to predict the impact of new roads on air quality.

To find your local air quality office, check the National Association of Clean Air Agencies website

Environmental Justice

People living or working near major highways or industries may breathe much dirtier air than people elsewhere in the community. Those places may be home to people who have low incomes or come from minority or ethnic backgrounds. 

Your community should take steps to reduce the extra burden these individuals face.  For example, tighter air pollution controls on power plants can help cut dangerous pollution in nearby neighborhoods.  So can using cleaner diesel buses and trucks.  Your community may need extra monitors to measure problems in some locations.  Make sure that air pollution rules are enforced the same way in every neighborhood.  Everyone, everywhere should have clean air to breathe.

Preventing Pollution in Your Community

Here are some steps you can take to help curb air pollution in your community. They protect your family, too.

Energy & Healthy Air

When we burn fuels to heat or power our homes or run our cars, we produce air pollution.  If we can cut down on the amount of energy we use, we can cut down on air pollution.  We need to make our buildings more energy efficient, use less electricity and drive less.  We also need alternatives to driving, including more sidewalks and mass transit options.

Cleaner fuels, like solar and wind, can cut pollution. However, not all alternative or renewable fuels are good for your lungs. For example, if you burn wood, you add air pollution indoors and outdoors.  Avoid devices, like outdoor wood boilers, that burn wood year-round, because they add pollution. Make sure any alternative or renewable fuels you use do not add to the air pollution problem in your community. 

Global Warming and Healthy Air

We need to lower all air emissions that lead to global warming, especially those that harm lung health.  These emissions may make warming worse—and global warming may make air pollution worse than it would otherwise be.  Heat in the atmosphere helps create some pollution, such as ozone, which is an ingredient in smog.  With higher temperatures predicted for future years, we need to work harder to clean our air and keep it clean.

Reducing air pollution can help reduce global warming. We need to set firm limits on polluting emissions, conserve energy and use cleaner fuels.  We must take steps to reduce local air pollution and, in turn, its impact on global air quality.