Energy & Environment

Nearly half lived with unhealthy pollution levels in 2016-2018: analysis

Almost half of Americans lived in areas with unhealthy pollution levels between 2016 and 2018, according to an analysis published Tuesday. 

The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report found that about 45.8 percent of the population, or about 150 million Americans, lived in places with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution between 2016 and 2018. 

The report also found that the situation had worsened since its last report. That report, with data from 2015 to 2017, found that about 141 million Americans lived in places with unhealthy pollution levels. 

“The ‘State of the Air’ finds that far too many people are still breathing unhealthy air,” said the group’s president and CEO, Harold Wimmer, in a statement.  

The finding comes as a separate study from earlier this month linked greater exposure to pollution to a greater risk of dying from COVID-19. It also follows a recent Trump administration decision to not tighten certain air quality standards. 

The report showed that many cities with high pollution levels were in California. 

The state’s Fresno-Madera-Hanford area was found to have the highest level of short-term particle pollution, Bakersfield was found to have the highest level of long-term particle pollution and the Los Angeles-Long Beach area was found to have the most ozone pollution. 


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