- The American Lung Association’s yearly State of the Air report ranked the cleanest and dirtiest metropolitan areas
- California’s cities were among the dirtiest in the country
- Fresno, Bakersfield and Visalia, California ranked as the worst for air pollution
- Prescott, Arizona, Farmington, New Mexico, and Cheyenne, Wyoming, ranked as the cleanest
- Air pollution can bring increased risks for asthma attacks, heart attacks and lung cancer
More than 40percent of Americans live where the air contains unhealthy levels of pollution, according to a newly released study.
The American Lung Association, in their yearly State of the Air report, ranked the cleanest and most polluted metropolitan areas, noting the ways in which some cities are trying to clear the air.
‘We strongly believe that everyone has the right to breathe healthy air, and that begins with knowing the quality of your air,’ ALA president and CEO Harold Wimmer said in a statement.
The organization measures pollution according to several different criteria, including excessive ozone pollution and high year-round and short-term particle concentration.
California had some of the most polluted cities, with Los Angeles-Long Beach, Bakersfield, Fresno-Madera and the Visalia-Porterville-Hanford area among the top five cities across all three categories.
The appearance of other cities on the list of most polluted may be more surprising.
For instance, Fairbanks, Alaska, came in ninth on the dirtiest cities list by short-term pollution. NPR reported that the wood-burning stoves residents use to stay warm has added pollution to the city’s air.
Those looking to duck out of the bad air without leaving the Golden State should head to Salinas, California, tied for sixth on the list of cleanest cities by year-round particle pollution.
Yahoo! Health notes that particle pollution such as that seen in high concentrations in some of the most polluted cities can lead to increased risk of asthma attacks and lung cancer.
Ozone pollution, which also plagues areas such as Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, can cause wheezing and coughing and asthma complications and carries increased risks for heart attacks.
In the eastern United States, in spite of stubbornly high levels of pollution, a commitment to changing to diesel engines and cleaning up power plants has brought about some improvements.
Climate change may make it difficult for cities to stay ahead of air pollution, according to the organization, as warmer temperatures will increase ozone pollution, and droughts and wildfires triggered by increasing heat add to particle pollution.