Air Pollution in USA Hits Decade Low

B. McPherson            

Since the Clean Air Act in the US was instituted in 1990 efforts have been made to limit pollutants. Now there is some good news. The American Lung Association(ALA) has announced findings that ozone and particulate matter in the air are the lowest they have been since the group started monitoring in 2000. 

The ALA estimates that the measures started in 1990 have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands Americans and added nearly half a year to their life expectancy.

There is still work to be done.

“The ALA warns that some 127 million Americans – more than 40 percent of the population – still live in areas that it graded with an F for air quality. These people suffer pollution levels that are often too dangerous to breathe, the report says.” Christian Science Monitor

California contains some of the country’s most pollution affected cities. Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno and Hanford have air that is problematic. A combination of sunny days, high vehicle usage and mountains that still the air add to the concentration of ground level pollution.

Air pollution is a global problem. While the Angelinos work to reduce their emissions, they are also dealing with pollutants riding the winds from Asia. More than a decade ago researchers found that there was a direct correlation between increased industrial activity in Asia and increased pollution on the N. American west coast. Researchers could positively trace the tiny particles to their source.

“Only a decade ago did scientists in the University of California's Pacific Rim Aerosol Network help discover that the pollution crossing the Pacific from Asia was worse than suspected, with millions of tons of previously undetected contaminants carried on the wind.

In fact, on any spring or summer day, almost a third of the air high over Los Angeles, San Francisco and other California cities can be traced directly to Asia, researchers said.”LATimes 

Where to live in the USA? Each year the ALA releases data for the cities with the cleanest air and the dirtiest.
Cleanest Cities 2011
·         Cheyenne, WY
·         Santa Fe, NM
·         Tuscon, AZ
·         Great Falls, MT
·         Honolulu, HI
Dirtiest Cities
·         Los Angeles, CA
·         Bakersfield, CA
·         Visalia-Porterville, CA
·         Fresno, CA
·         Sacramento, CA
While Americans are trying to clean up their air and have some distance to go, they are far and away much cleaner than the worst cities of the world for air pollution.

Really Dirty World Cities
·         Beijing, China ties with New Delhi, India
·         Santiago, Chile
·         Mexico City, Mexico
·         Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

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