The most unhealthy cities in the United States with polluted air

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By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) – More than 40 percent of Americans live in unhealthy air, according to the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report.

Some cities and certain types of Americans are much more likely to be affected.

Black Americans are 61% more likely to live in a county surrounded by unhealthy air than whites and three times more likely to live in a county with a failure in overall air quality, according to the ALA report.

In addition, the report says climate change continues to worsen air pollution in much of the country.

“This report highlights the urgent need to curb climate change, clean up air pollution, and advance environmental justice,” said Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association.

“The nation has a real opportunity to face all three at the same time, and to do that we need to focus on health and health equity as we move away from combustion and fossil fuels towards renewable and clean energy, ”Wimmer said in a news release of the ALA.

Continued

The 2021 “State of the Air” report analyzes U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data from 2017 to 2019, three of the six hottest years on record worldwide.

Due to climate change, many western states continue to experience record highs for particulate pollution due to wildfire smoke.

Changing climate patterns that fuel forest fires also increase temperatures leading to increased ozone pollution. This poor air quality threatens everyone, but especially children, older adults and people living with a lung disease.

Research also shows that air pollution can worsen COVID-19, the authors noted.

The report highlights the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants: ground-level ozone pollution and particulate pollution. Both are dangerous to public health and life-threatening.

Particle (or soot) pollution comes from forest fires, wood stoves, coal-fired power plants, diesel engines, and other sources. Known as PM2.5, these microscopic particles can be triggered asthma attacks, heart attacks, blows and cause lung cancer.

Research has also linked particle contamination to other serious diseases, such as asthma i dementia, and worse than COVID-19 results.

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Due to wildfire smoke and wood burning at home, nearly 54 million Americans live with dangerous peaks in short-term particulate pollution, while more than 21 million live in counties with unhealthy levels of particle contamination throughout the year, according to the pulmonary association.

Ozone pollution irritates them respiratory system. May cause difficulty breathing, Cough and asthma attacks, and can shorten life. Research also links smog to an increased risk of developing conditions such as diabetes.

More than 123 million Americans live in a county with a degree of ozone-deficient pollution, including 28 million children and 18 million people over the age of 65.

Below are the cities with the dirtiest and cleanest air:

Top 10 American cities with the most particulate pollution in the short term (24 hours)

  • Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Fresno-Wood-Hanford, California.
  • Bakersfield, California.
  • San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California.
  • Yakima, Wash.
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, California.
  • Logan, Utah-Idaho
  • Redding-Red Bluff, California.
  • Missoula, Mont.
  • Sacramento-Roseville, California.

Top 10 cities in the United States with the most particulate pollution year-round

  • Bakersfield, California.
  • Fresno-Wood-Hanford, California.
  • Visalia, California.
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, California.
  • Medford-Grants Pass, Mineral.
  • Fairbanks, Alaska
  • San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California.
  • Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.
  • Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, Pennsylvania. Ohio-West Va.
  • The Center, Calif.

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The ten cities most polluted by ozone

  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, California.
  • Bakersfield, California.
  • Visalia, California.
  • Fresno-Wood-Hanford, California.
  • Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.
  • Sacramento-Roseville, California.
  • San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, California.
  • Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, Utah
  • Denver-Aurora, Colo.
  • San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California.

Cities with cleaner air

  • Burlington-South Burlington-Barre, Vt.
  • Charlottesville, Va.
  • Elmira-Corning, NY
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Wilmington, NC

“There are too many people who breathe unhealthy air and they’re likely to be people of color disproportionately,” Wimmer said.

“Join us in calling on President Biden to promote environmental justice by prioritizing historically charged communities for pollution cleanup and receiving the benefits of investments in the transition to electric vehicles and renewable, clean electricity.” added.

The report was released on April 21st.

More information

For more information on air pollution and health, see the document United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: American Lung Association, press release, April 21, 2021



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