The American Lung Association released its annual air pollution report at the end of April and found that forty-four percent of Americans live in areas with dangerous levels of ozone or particle pollution. Although some areas have experienced a record number of high particle pollution days, the numbers are down from last year’s 47 percent.
Particle pollution is a mixture of liquid and solid droplets in the air that are created by a number of sources like power plants, wildfires and vehicles. If a person breathes these droplets in over a long period of time they have a greater risk of developing asthma, lung cancer, lung disease, acute lower respiratory infections, heart disease, strokes and many other serious conditions.
In addition to all of those wonderful health problems, studies have shown that pregnant women exposed to air pollution have a greater probability of giving birth to a child with low birth weight and autism:
Researchers from Harvard University’s School of Public Health found that pregnant women exposed to high levels of diesel particulates or mercury were twice as likely to have an autistic child compared with peers in low-pollution areas. [Source]
This is the reason the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is so important. Even though our air is getting cleaner and stricter regulations have reduced the emissions that cause the six most widespread pollutants, we still have some work to do.
These ten cities had the highest year-round particle pollution:
10. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio
9. Pittsburgh; New Castle, Ohio; Weirton, West Virginia
8. Cincinnati; Wilmington, Kentucky; Maysville, Indiana
7. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California
6. El Centro, California
5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
4. Modesto-Merced, California
3. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, California
2. Bakersfield, California
1. Fresno-Madera, California
Six cities — San Francisco; Phoenix; Visalia, California; Reno, Nevada.; Yakima, Washington; and Fairbanks, Alaska — reported record days of unhealthy particle pollution. Scientists have attributed that rise, in part, to the severe drought on the Pacific coast. I was in Visalia, California, last summer and the air quality was so bad I couldn’t even see the mountains that surrounded the city; it was quite a shocking experience.
Republicans ripped Obama apart when he laid out a plan last year that required a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions at fossil fuel-burning power plants by 2030. They have said time and time again that if they were given the opportunity to dismantle the EPA, they would. They’re not concerned about autism and lung cancer because corporate profits are far more important than your health and the health of your children.
Featured image: via Learnnc.org