"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Report: One in three people lives with air pollution that’s harmful to their health

April 19, 2023 – Nearly 120 million people within the United States, or multiple in three, live in environments with air pollution that's harmful to health, in accordance with a brand new study by the American Lung Association. “State of the air” Report.

Overall, air quality within the country has improved, but there are large differences between air quality within the east and the west, and pollution affects people of color greater than white people, the association said.

The association's twenty fourth annual report assesses dangerous levels of ground-level ozone air pollution, annual particle pollution and short-term pollution peaks and covers the period 2019-21.

More than 64 million of the people living with poor air quality are people of color, the report says. And people of color are 64% more prone to live in a county that gets a poor grade in not less than one area, and three.7 times more prone to live in a county that gets a poor grade in all three areas.

In addition, greater than 18 million people within the Western states live in counties that had three failing scores. The 25 counties with the worst scores for short-term particulate emissions were all within the West.

“The good news is that ozone pollution has generally improved across the country, thanks in large part to the success of the Clean Air Act. In this year's State of the Air report, we found that 19.3 million fewer people live in areas with harmful levels of ozone pollution, also known as smog,” said Harold Wimmer, national president and CEO of the American Lung Association, in a press release.

“But the reality is that 120 million people still live in places with air pollution that is harmful to their health, and not all communities are seeing improvements. That's why it's so important that we continue our efforts to make sure everyone in the United States has clean air to breathe.”

The cities with the best ozone pollution, in accordance with the report, were Los Angeles-Long Beach, Visalia, Bakersfield and Fresno-Madera-Hanford (all in California) and Phoenix-Mesa (Arizona).

The cities most affected by year-round particulate matter pollution were Bakersfield, Visalia, Fresno-Madera-Hanford, Los Angeles-Long Beach (all in California) and Fairbanks (Alaska).

The areas most affected by short-term particle pollution were Bakersfield, Fresno-Madera-Hanford, Fairbanks, Visalia and Reno-Carson City-Fernley, NV.

The cleanest cities were, in alphabetical order: Asheville-Marion-Brevard, NC; Bangor, ME; Greenville-Kinston-Washington, NC; Lincoln-Beatrice, NE; Rochester-Batavia-Seneca Falls, NY; Urban Honolulu, HI; and Wilmington, NC.