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American Lung Association Stresses Clean Air Act Benefits
Despite uptick in short-term unhealthy air days, across the nation, year-round pollution declines

WEDNESDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) -- More than four in 10 people in the United States live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, according to the State of the Air 2013 report published April 24 by the American Lung Association (ALA).

The ALA assessed levels of ozone and particle pollution from official monitoring sites across the United States in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Particulate matter with a diameter of <2.5 µm was calculated for both year-round (annual average) and short-term levels (24-hour). A weighted average number of days was used for both ozone and short-term particle pollution. Averages calculated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were used for year-round particle pollution rankings.

The association found that for decades the United States has seen continued reduction in ozone and particle pollution, and overall air emissions that create the six most widespread pollutants continues to drop. Especially in the eastern United States, lower year-round levels of particle pollution were seen from 2009 to 2011. Most, but not all, cities also showed a continued long-term trend for fewer high ozone days. The years 2008 to 2010 remain the best period to date in terms of average number of unhealthy days. While year-round average levels for particles are steadily dropping, there are increases in short-term spikes in days, with 14 of the worst 25 cities having more days or worse problems from 2009 to 2011. The city with the worst ozone pollution problem is still Los Angeles, but it reported its fewest unhealthy ozone days since this report began, as did 12 of the 27 most ozone polluted cities.

"We have seen time and again that the Clean Air Act delivers tremendous health benefits," Harold Wimmer, national president and chief executive officer of the ALA, said in a statement. "Congress must ensure that the provisions under the Clean Air Act are protected and are fully enforced. EPA and the states must have adequate funding to monitor and protect the nation from air pollution."

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