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US air pollution at lowest level in 10 years, according to American Lung Association


Fresh snow blankets the mountains behind the downtown skyline after a series of storms that hammered northern California delivered much needed precipitation to the Greater Los Angeles Area January 7, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. The American Lung Association said that Los Angeles, America's smoggiest city, reduced its pollution - helping push the country to the lowest level of air pollution in 10 years.


David McNew

The American Lung Assocaition on Wednesday released a report that said air pollution in the United States is at its lowest level in 10 years, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

A press release announcing the findings posted on the ALA website said, "This year’s report found that air quality is the best we’ve seen in the majority of American cities that are most-polluted by ozone or year-round particle pollution. Although they still have unhealthy air quality, they show continued progress in the cleanup of ozone smog and particle pollution."

This, the ALA said, "proves that the Clean Air Act is working."

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However, it did not paint an entirely rosy picture. "In some areas," the ALA wrote, "the air quality actually worsened and more than 40 percent of people in the USstill live in areas where air pollution threatens their health."

In its annual "State of the Air" report, the group listed the most polluted cities across the country by ozone, long term, and short term particulate matter. California, whose climate and geography helps to trap air pollution, is still the worst place to breathe, but it is better than it used to be. But, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, the Bay Area dropped off the list of the 25 most polluted cities in America. 

The ALA wrote, "Eighteen of the 25 cities most polluted by ozone, including Los Angeles, had their lowest smog levels since the first State of the Air report was published in 2000." Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Diego, Philadelphia, and Visalia, California saw reductions.

In 2011, the Baltimore/Washington, DC area saw an improvement in its number of "orange days" from 2010, according to the Baltimore Sun. Even bucolic Fairfield County, Connecticut remained high on the list, due to its proximity to New York, an industrial megacity, the Ridgefield Press reported.

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CSM quoted ALA's Assistant Vice President Janice Nolen, who said, “In spite of economic growth, we’ve been able to reduce pollution, and that means that these are permanent, real changes that have allowed us to have cleaner air.”