State of the Air report shows promise, room for improvement

Cities across the world have been spearheading initiatives to reduce their impact on the environment at increasing rates over the last few decades. Some have come a long way, others still have room for improvement. To gage which category cities fall under, the American Lung Association (ALA) has released its 2012 State of the Air report. 

One of the most alarming statistics that the report revealed was that roughly 41 percent of the country's population is suffering from dangerous levels of pollution that could have a negative impact on their ability to breath.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, ALA project director Janice Nolen explained how much pollution can affect public health. She used the 1996 Olympics, which took place in Atlanta, as an example. Nolen said that during the games, morning traffic dropped by 23 percent, which consequently lowered the area's ozone levels by 28 percent. Perhaps not so coincidentally, emergency room visits for cases of pediatric asthma decreased by an estimated 42 percent.

While there were obviously frontrunners and trailers in the ALA's 2012 report, there was also some promising news regarding the worst offenders. Twenty-two of the 25 cities which were found to have the most ozone pollution actually had improved data compared to last year.

"State of the Air shows that we're making real and steady progress in cutting dangerous pollution from the air we breathe," Charles Connor, president of the ALA, said in a statement. "But despite these improvements, America's air quality standards are woefully outdated, and unhealthy levels of air pollution still exist across the nation, putting the health of millions of Americans at stake."

It's important that citizens do as much as possible to reduce their personal impact on ozone levels, and with that, hopefully the numbers can improve even further next year. To see how your county is impacting the atmosphere or for more information about the study, visit the State of the Air website.

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