The state of the air is a worldwide concern. Learn what’s being done to prevent the health effects of air pollution and which places have the best air quality.
Air pollution is one of the world’s leading risk factors for mortality, causing more deaths than obesity, malnutrition, and high cholesterol. While the United States has cleaner air than other areas of the globe, air quality is still a serious concern across the country.
But no matter where you live, the effects of air pollution are more far-reaching than lung damage alone.
The state of the air changes from year to year. It’s in your health’s best interest to stay up-to-date on these fluctuations. You could be living in a high-risk city blissfully unaware of the consequences.
We’ll cover these and more in our State of the Air overview.
1. The State of the Air
Since air pollution is usually invisible to the naked eye, it’s easy to assume our air is clean and healthy. But that’s hardly the case. According to the American Lung Association’s State of the air report, a whopping 41% of Americans live in areas with air quality detrimental to their health.
While the Clean Air Act and other climate regulations continue to make small improvements, climate change is beginning to hamper their effect. The report claims that smog became more frequent due to unnatural levels of heat. Additional wildfires also caused a decrease in air quality.
Of the top ten cities in the US with the worst air quality, California nearly dominates the list. Bakersfield, CA has the worst particle pollution while Los Angeles is the top spot for the worst ozone pollution.
Globally, the United States is one of the worst sufferers of ozone pollution. In the atmosphere, ozone gas protects the earth from radiation, but at ground level, it’s extremely hazardous to our health.
2. The Health Effects of Air Pollution
Now that you have an idea of air quality across the United States, you’re wondering what it means for your health. Pollutants in our air have pervasive physical effects.
It’s not surprising to hear that air pollution can cause respiratory damage and irritation, which can lead to asthma and reduced lung function. Small particles, such as ozone gas, plant themselves inside our lungs. The resulting inflammation can cause a variety of respiratory diseases.
But these pollutants also have severe effects on the circulatory system.
Smaller pollutants slip into the veins and cause extensive damage. Bad air quality ultimately results in strokes, lung cancer, and heart disease. The World Health Organization believes that a third of these deaths are the result of air pollution.
Those most at risk are young children, pregnant women, and older adults.
3. Improving Our Air Quality
Ever since the passing of the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency has done its utmost to continue improving air quality across the country. The Clean Air Act has improved air quality for almost 50 years, even as the population and economy continue to grow.
While the EPA works at both a national and state level to introduce air pollution controls, some states attempt to take charge. California is one of the leading states.
Since transportation accounts for at least half the air pollution in the United States, California launched its Advanced Clean Cars Standards program. This program sets a limit on the number of pollutants any one passenger car is allowed to release.
Other states such as Colorado and Virginia have similar programs, intended to slowly reduce air pollution. The regulations from our local and national governments are making small but worthwhile changes to the nation’s air quality.
3. Preventing the Health Effects of Air Pollution
Although the national and local governments are doing what they can to improve the air quality where you live, there are some things you can do to protect yourself. If you already have respiratory or circulatory diseases, you’d do well to follow these tips.
Be familiar with air pollution in your area. On days with high air pollution, it’s best to stay indoors and limit your physical activity. You can find this information online or on your local news station.
Improve the air quality in your home by utilizing an air purifier. Although summer months usually have the worst outdoor air pollution, you’ll want to run the air purifier year-round. Your home’s interior air quality is worst during the winter months.
Avoid rush-hour traffic and busy roads, especially if you live nearby or plan on walking along the sidewalk. The exhaust from these vehicles is one of the main culprits of poor air quality. Keep your windows closed and avoid areas with heavy traffic.
Remember to reduce your own carbon footprint by opting to take public transportation or walk to nearby destinations.
4. The Best Cities for Air Quality
Are you looking for a vacation spot to freshen your lungs? Here’s a countdown of the five cities that have the best air quality in the country:
5. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI. Residing on the west side of Maui, tropical winds and a small population make this city the fifth cleanest in the country.
4. The capital of North Dakota, Bismarck, ND takes the fourth spot.
3. Ranked at number three is the picturesque Casper, WY.
2. In second place is perhaps the most well-known city in Hawaii: Honolulu, HI.
1. The cleanest city in the country is Cheyenne, WY, the capital of Wyoming.
Protect Your Health
Are you worried about the state of the air across the country? The reality is there are countless risk factors that exist beyond our control. But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless.
When health complications occur, you need the best health professionals without worrying about the bills. Take control of your health by enrolling in our extensive medical network.