US air pollution hits 10-year low, report finds
A report by the American Lung Association finds that air pollution has fallen to its lowest levels since the group began collecting data in 2000. The ALA credits the Clean Air Act.
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In Pictures Some of the world's most polluted cities
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The EPA estimated in 2010 improvements brought on by the Clean Air Act since 1990 have saved the lives of 160,000 people. The New England Journal of Medicine reported in January 2009 that cleaner air has added nearly five months to the average US life expectancy.
“But despite these improvements, America’s air quality standards are woefully outdated,” Mr. Connor said, “and unhealthy levels of air pollution still exist across the nation, putting the health of millions of Americans at stake.”
The ALA warns that some 127 million Americans – more than 40 percent of the population – still live in areas that it graded with an F for air quality. These people suffer pollution levels that are often too dangerous to breathe, the report says.
The most-polluted cities detailed in the report were heavily concentrated in California. Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno and Hanford registered especially high levels of pollution, due in large part to their geographical qualities. Many parts of the state have almost perfect conditions for air pollution, Ms. Nolen says. The warm climate combined with it’s curved topography and high traffic volume make it possible for air pollution to linger and spread.
Recent proposals from Republicans in Congress have included delaying implementation and blocking enforcement parts of the Clean Air Act, and limiting the EPA’s ability to consider all of the scientific evidence regarding the harm to public health.
But Nolen says it’s obvious the track we’re on is the right one.
“This progress is proof that the system we’ve had in place for 40 years works," Nolen says.
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