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Lung Association Cites Marginal Air Quality Improvement

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The American Lung Association issued their newest State of the Air report for air quality found in U.S. Cities. The report states that air quality has improved in some cities, but that 154 million Americans are still threatened by dangerously high pollution levels.  The 2011 State of the Air Report, which is based on data from 2007 to 2009, reports on levels of pollution from monitoring sites across the U.S. The report focuses on two specific types of pollution, ozone and particle pollution, because according to the ALA, these types are most responsible for the country’s air pollution problem.  Year-round exposure to high levels of particle pollution has been linked to death from lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Children have experienced slower lung function growth, and children living near roads with heavy traffic have been hospitalized for asthma attacks in increasing numbers. The California Air Resources Board estimates that over 9,000 people in the state die prematurely each year from breathing particle pollution.  With respect to particle pollution, meanwhile, eight cities had year-round levels above the national standard: Bakersfield, Calif.; Los Angeles; Phoenix, Ariz.; Visalia, Calif.; Hanford, Calif.; Fresno, Calif.; Pittsburgh; and Birmingham, Ala. On top of that, nearly 61 million Americans live in areas that experienced short, sustained periods of harmful spikes in particle pollution. These spikes can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and early death. The Republican controlled House of Representatives is trying to reduce the U.S. EPA’s authority in regulating air pollution.  This report should give them pause in reducing the EPA’s relevance.

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