American Lung Association Releases 2009 State of the Air Report

See how your city stacks up and what you can do to improve the air you breathe.

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The 2009 State of the Air report shows that more than 186 million Americans live in counties where air pollution reaches dangerous levels.

Photo Courtesy American Lung Association

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The American Lung Association released its 2009 State of the Air report last week, marking its tenth annual State of the Air report. The report came complete with the rankings of the cities with the cleanest and most polluted air by ozone and particle pollution in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The cities with high year-round particle pollution and high short-term levels were ranked separately.

Even though we’ve come a long way since the first State of the Air report, air pollution is still a serious health risk. Some of the findings of this year’s report include:

-Six out of ten US citizens live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution.
-About 40.5 million people live in the 37 counties with unhealthy levels of all three kinds of pollution: ozone and short-term and long-term particle pollution.
-Coal-fired power plants are responsible for a large portion of ozone, mercury, particle pollution and global warming
-Ocean-traveling vessels, such as container ships, cruise ships and tankers, produce staggering amounts of particle pollution, sulfur dioxide, heat-trapping carbon dioxide, and contribute smog-forming oxides of nitrogen.

The report also offered tips for what individuals could do to reduce air pollution:

-Decrease the amount you drive.
-Don’t burn trash or wood because both greatly contribute to particle pollution.
-Lobby school systems to replace old buses with clean energy buses.
-Decrease your overall energy consumption.

You can also see how your own city ranked with a convenient clickable online map. If your city’s air isn’t up to snuff, petition the Environmental Protection Agency to increase air quality standards in your area through the American Lung Association’s website.

More about air pollution

• Many toxins contribute to indoor air pollution. Find out what may be lurking in your home.

• Improve indoor air quality with these tips for toxin-proofing your home.

• How much do you know about indoor air quality? Take this quiz and find out.

• Capture and remove indoor air pollutants with an indoor air filter.