Despite efforts to reduce pollution, the United States’ air is still “too often dangerous to breathe” for almost half the country, according to the results of a report by the American Lung Association.
While the study cites “encouraging progress” in most cities, there is still “evidence of troubling challenges” as 138.5 million Americans are still affected by pollution, Association President Harold P. Wimmer explained in a statement.
“The State of the Air 2015” Report Card, which was released Wednesday, published a ranking of cities by their levels of particle pollution or soot, and ozone pollution, or smog, between 2011 and 2013.
According to the report, Los Angeles was the “metropolitan area with the worst ozone pollution”. It is the fifth city in the rankings for particle pollution levels.
Eleven cities were tied on the first spot of the cleanest air in the United States, including Bismarck, N.D.; Elmira, N.Y., Salinas, Calif., and Cape Coral, Fla..
Surprisingly, New York City did not enter the top 10 in either category, stopping at No. 11 for smog. The Big Apple has even has 47 times the levels of smog than the country’s average.
Many cities, especially those form the Eastern coast, have cleaned up their air, “thanks to cleaner fuels and cleaner diesel fleets,” the study said.
However, most of the worst days for air quality have happened in recent years mostly because of the climate change that opens the door for pollution, according to the report.
The actual drought in California, which is blamed on climate change, has prompted a raise in days with soot and dirt, said another research released earlier this month.
“Continued progress cleaning up pollution makes a difference, but a changing climate is making it harder to protect human health,” the lung association’s study found.
Pollution can be extremely detrimental to health, shortening lifespans and increasing asthma attacks, strokes, heart attacks, and lung cancer, research has discovered. Air pollution is harmful for four in 10 people and dangerous for children, causing autism risks and fetal brain development.
The lung association asked lawmakers to impose stricter pollution standards to limit the health risks.
The group said that by 2025, new limits could prevent almost 8,000 premature deaths, but also 1.9 school days missed and 1.8 million asthma attacks in children.
“Our nation has made significant progress, but clearly more must be done to reduce the burden of air pollution and improve the health of millions of Americans,” the study authors explained.
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