State of the Air 2015: Four in Ten Americans Breathe Unhealthy Air

May 01, 2015|1:17 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

This week, the American Lung Association (ALA) released its “State of the Air 2015” report, which compiles air quality report cards for cities based on states’ monitoring data on ozone and particle pollution levels. Despite many cities’ strong improvements in reducing particle pollution, others have had increased episodes of unhealthy air. According to the report, more than four in ten Americans live in counties that have unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution. Additionally, almost 17.8 million Americans live in 12 counties with unhealthy levels of ozone, short-term particle pollution, and year-round particle pollution.

ALA has examined air pollution levels across the United States for the past 16 years, and has found that although there has been improvement each year in air quality, it is getting harder to protect human health from air pollution due to climate change. "One challenge is that many more people are actually at risk than even our estimates show, says Harold P. Wimmer, national president and CEO of ALA. “We use the current ozone standard as the basis of much of our assessment, but that standard is weak and out of date, and does not reflect what we know harms children and people with lung disease."

To improve the nation’s air quality, ALA suggests strengthening outdated ozone standards, protecting the Clean Air Act, adopting a Clean Power Plan, and funding work to provide healthy air.

Read more in these stories from MedlinePlus and U.S. News and World Report.