Tips to Fight for Healthy Air in Your Community

You can help in your state and community to clean up air pollution.

The State of the Air

The first step is to learn about the quality of the air in your community. What grade does your county get for air pollution? Check out where your community ranks among the cleanest—and the dirtiest—cities in the nation. Take a look at the trends over time to see how the air quality has changed. The American Lung Association "State of the Air" report tells you about the quality of the air where you live.

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.

Cleaning Up Pollution in Your Community

One key way to help clean up the air in your community 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 also get updates on the work they're doing and share your concerns during their public meetings, even if you aren't on the advisory committee. To find your local air quality office, check the National Association of Clean Air Agencies website.

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.

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. This places a serious risk to their health.

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. Get involved in the air pollution planning program in your community, described above. Speak up to make sure that air pollution plan provides protection the same way in every neighborhood. Everyone, everywhere should have clean air to breathe.

Climate Change & Healthy Air

Many communities are already starting to feel the threat that climate change poses to the health of their residents, including serious risks to lung health. You can take steps to fight climate change.

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 to ask our local leaders for 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. Learn more about the impact of energy used in your home.

National Policies, Local Impact

Policies and laws from Congress, the White House, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can have a huge impact on the air quality in your community. Federal protections like the Clean Air Act form the foundation of many communities' programs to clean up their local air, and you can help keep them strong by telling your story. Learn more and take action here.

Share Your Story

We all have a reason to fight for clean air. People just like you have shared some personal stories that highlight the need for healthy, safe air. Read the stories they have shared or share your own.

Fight for Clean Air

We need your help to fight for healthy air in your community.
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Page last updated: March 23, 2020

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