Nearly Half of All Americans Breathing In Polluted Air, Study Shows

A new report from the American Lung Association shows that nearly half of all Americans are regularly exposed to air pollution. In many cases this air can be very dangerous to breathe, particularly when the thermometer rises.

The American Lung Association’s report, known as the “State of the Air 2015” report card, was released last week. It shows that about 44-percent of all Americans are currently residing in communities where the air is actually dangerous to breathe.

The ALA’s report also shows the nation’s most ozone-polluted cities, starting with Los Angeles. In fact, California–with its warm climate and millions of exhaust-spewing vehicles–figures prominently on the list, with communities like Bakersfield, Fresno, and Sacramento placing in the top five. Texas also has its troubles, though, with Houston and Dallas following.

On the opposite end is Bismarck, North Dakota, the country’s “cleanest” city. Naples, Florida, Elmira-Corning, New York, and Fargo, North Dakota round out the top three least ozone-polluted cities.

The researchers behind the report hope it will remind Americans to take care when exercising in the summer heat. “You need to make sure that the air quality is healthy, too, while you’re exercising because you’re breathing in more pollution if you’re breathing faster and harder,” notes Janice Nolen, the ALA’s assistant vice president for national policy. Nolen adds that people living next to busy roadways need to be most careful when heading out this summer.

The report is based on ground-level ozone and particle pollution readings taken across the United States between 2011 and 2013.


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