More than half of the nation’s population, 186.1 million people to be exact, live and breathe in communities with dangerously high levels of air pollution, new research shows.
Although there have been some improvements in the nation’s overall air health over the past decade, those gains are leveling out, said Janice E. Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy and advocacy at the lung association.
And recent measures that are not yet having an effect (but likely will) are counterbalanced by the world’s insatiable need for more electricity, she added.
“It’s not nearly the direction that we need to take,” Nolen said.
But there was good news for the residents of Fargo, N.D., which won the top spot as the nation’s cleanest city overall – the only one to pass the grade in all three categories of air pollution: ozone pollution, year-round particle pollution and short-term (24-hour) particle pollution.
Tucson was one of 17 other cities that ranked high in two of the three categories. Othere included: Billings, Mont.; Bismarck, N.D.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Farmington, N.M.; Ft. Collins, Colo.; Honolulu; Lincoln, Neb.; Midland-Odessa, Texas; Port St. Lucie, Fla.; Pueblo, Colo,; Redding, Calif.; Salinas, Calif.; San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Santa Fe-Espanola, N.M.; Sioux Falls, N.D.
Los Angeles is the nation’s dirtiest city, keeping the spot it has held for a decade now.
“It will likely remain on top of the most-polluted list for ozone for a long time, but they have made improvements,” Nolen said.
Other dirty cities for ozone: Bakersfield, Calif.; Visalia-Porterville, Calif.; Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pa.; and Fresno-Madera, Calif.
Eighty million more Americans (175 million) than last year live in areas with unacceptably high smog (ozone) levels too many days of the year.