Almost Half of US Citizens Breathe Unhealthy, Polluted Air - Study

© Flickr / Don DeBoldUvas Reservoir, California
Uvas Reservoir, California - Sputnik International
More than four in ten Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of ozone and particle pollution, according to a study released on Wednesday by the American Lung Association.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The American Lung Association warned that air pollution “remains a pervasive public health threat” in the United States, and if not improved, could lead to lung diseases and premature death.

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“More than four in 10 Americans — nearly 138.5 million people — live in counties where ozone or particle pollution levels make the air unhealthy to breathe,” the study found, noting high levels of pollution has a particularly strong impact on infants, children and people with respiratory diseases.

The cities with the highest level of pollution are in the US western states, with California having some of the nation’s worst air quality, the study found. California air quality has been compounded by a four-year drought.

The majority of California’s air pollution is coming from local sources, especially in the region that has missed a federal deadline for cleaning its winter air of sooty particulates, produced by diesel engines and developed in warm, dry conditions. - Sputnik International
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“The impact of climate change is particularly apparent in the western United States, where heat and drought create situations ripe for episodes of high particle pollution, a pollutant recently found to cause lung cancer,” the study read.

Improvements in air quality have been made in the eastern United States due to the use of fewer diesel fuels and cleaner power plants, which the American Lung Association pinned on implementation of the Clean Air Act. The act regulates emissions and sets air quality standards in the United States.

The Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have long been a target of US Republican politicians and pro-coal states.

The association advocates for stronger EPA air quality standards and strong enforcement, as well as strengthening of the Clean Air Act.

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