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American Lung Association "State Of The Air 2013" Report Finds Air Quality Improves Nationwide Despite More Spikes In Unhealthy Air Days

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  The American Lung Association's " State of the Air 2013" report released today finds significant progress in the reduction of year-round particle pollution (soot) across the nation, but many cities that ranked among the most polluted had more unhealthy days of high ozone (smog) and short-term particle pollution than in the 2012 report.  Despite that uptick, "State of the Air 2013" shows that the air quality nationwide continues the long-term trend to much healthier air.

Key "State of the Air 2013" findings include:

  • More than 131.8 million people in the United States, which equates to 42 percent of the U.S. population, live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution.
  • Nearly 24.8 million people (8 percent) in the United States live in counties that have unhealthy levels of all three: ozone and short-term and year-round particle pollution. 
  • Eighteen cities had lower year-round levels of particle pollution, including 16 cities with their lowest levels recorded. 

"We are happy to report that the state of our air is much cleaner today than when we started the 'State of the Air' report 14 years ago," said Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association.  "Even in parts of the country that experienced increases in unhealthy days of high ozone and short-term particle pollution, they still have better air quality compared to a decade ago.  But the work is not done, and the Environmental Protection Agency must continue the work necessary to achieve the promise of the Clean Air Act; healthy air that is safe for all to breathe." 

More cities – four – made the list of the "cleanest cities" than in any previous "State of the Air" report: Bismarck, N.D.; Cape Coral- Fort Myers, Fla.; Palm Bay- Melbourne- Titusville, Fla.; and Rapid City, S.D. To make this list, the cities had to have no days with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution and had to be among the 25 cities with the lowest year-round particle levels.

Some Progress in Reducing Particle Pollution

This year's report reveals that many places made strong progress, particularly in lower year-round levels of particle pollution, compared to last year's report.  Lower particle pollution levels are a direct result of emissions reductions from the transition to cleaner diesel fuels and engines and coal-fired power plants, especially in the eastern United States. 

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