American Lung Association Finds Clean Air Act Effective
According to their State of the Air report released in April 2012, the American Lung Association found that 18 of the country’s 25 most polluted cities are actually showing lower smog levels than in 2000 when the first report was released. The report determined which cities had the lowest quality air by measuring the ozone pollution as well as the particle pollution. In each report since 2000,Los Angeleswas the city with the worst air quality, but it has shown improvement. Other cities frequently on the most polluted cities list that also saw an improvement in their air quality were Pittsburgh,Cincinnati,San Diego,Houston,PhiladelphiaandVisalia,California.
The Clean Air Act has been responsible for cleaning up coal fired power plants and reducing diesel emissions, among other air pollutants. Unfortunately, this new is bittersweet because while the report does show that we are making progress in creating cleaner air in some of the most polluted cities, the air quality in other cities has actually become worse. In fact, the report concluded that over 40% of United States citizens (about 127 million people) are living in areas where the pollution levels in the air is threatening to their health. This unhealthy air is linked to increased risk for asthma, lung cancer, COPD, heart attacks and premature death. Children and the elderly are those segments of the population that are most at risk, and at the same time are the segments of the population that often don’t have the ability to stand up for what they believe in and make a difference.
The American Lung Association president and chief executive Charles Connor, recently said that several members of Congress are proposing changes to laws that can potential weaken the Clear Air Act. Now that progress has been shown as a result of the Clean Air Act, now is not the time to give up on the act, in fact this should be the time to devote more time and energy into strengthening it.
The state of California, especially, cannot afford any weakening to the Act as 18 counties in the state received an “F” grade for their air quality in the 2012 State of the Air Report. Some of the reasons California sees a larger number of cities with poor air quality and high levels of pollutants include heavy petroleum dependency, and weather/climate patterns which are conducive to poor air quality conditions.
So while California is still seeing extremely high levels of pollution in the air of many of it’s counties, two counties actually received a passing grade from the American Lung Association for the first time ever. This gives the rest of the country hope that with the continuation of the Clean Air Act the air quality in cities all over the country will slowly, but continually begin to improve.
The best way US citizens can take a stand and support the Clean Air Act is by telling Congress about how important healthy air is for everyone and how important it is for them to support the Clean Air Act.
Photo Credit: Some Rights Reserved by channone via Flickr
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