The American Lung Association (ALA) released a new report revealing the top U.S. cities with the worst air pollution.
Entitled "State of the Air 2016," the document reveals how air quality has improved from 2012-2014 as manifested by lower amounts of year-round pollution. However, more than 50 percent of Americans or 166 million individuals stay in counties where exposure to unhealthy levels of pollutants is still present.
Most cities have improved in terms of air cleanliness, yet some reached their worst state in the last decade and experienced high-impact weather events. With this, the report suggests that protecting human health is really challenging, especially with the changing climate.
Ozone And Particle Pollution
The authors of the report investigated the ozone and particle pollution in different sites in the country from 2012-2014. They specifically looked into both year-round and short-term pollution situations in the areas.
"The report uses the most current quality-assured nationwide data available for these analyses," the authors write (PDF).
For ozone pollution, most cities improved, with some dropping to their lowest levels ever. Los Angeles continues to hold the first spot of the most ozone-polluted city, while five of those that constantly make it to the list declined to their all-time lows.
The situation of year-round particle pollution is somehow the same. The authors found that 16 of the cities that are recognized to have the highest levels of particle pollution dropped to its lowest numbers. However, seven other cities increased their year-round pollution compared to last year.
Most Polluted Cities In The U.S.
The top 10 most polluted cities in the U.S., in terms of ozone and particle pollutants include California's Los Angeles-Long Beach, Bakersfield, Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Fresno-Madera, Sacramento-Roseville, Modesto-Merced; Arizona's Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale; Colorado's Denver-Aurora and Fort Collins; and Nevada's Las Vegas-Henderson.
What Can Be Done
ALA recommends a few things that the public can do to help mitigate the problems of air pollution. One is to reduce vehicles on the road by carpooling, riding public transportation or walking. Emissions from vehicles play a huge role in the rise of air pollution, thus, it is important to alleviate this problem.
Another tip is to conserve electricity. This can be done by switching off lights when not in use and using energy-efficient appliances.
Burning wood or trash is one of the biggest sources of particle pollution. This is why ALA discourages this practice, and instead encourages to use natural gas and recycle as much as possible.
There are many ways in which people could help, and with the rise of new technologies that aim to curb pollution, such as the recently invented graphene-based sensor that detects pollution in homes, these cities may still have a chance to improve their conditions in the coming years.