What We Learned from the State of the Air Report 2013

Every year, the American Lung Association releases a report on the State of the Air. We take a look at 2013’s report and what it means for you.

State of the Air

The condition of the air in 2013 according to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report finds a significant increase in quality over the last decade even though 4 in 10 people in the United States live in an area with unhealthy levels of ozone. Passed over 40 years ago by U.S. Congress, the Clean Air Act enforces stronger standards than ever and works to address pollutants and locate the source of pollutants, bringing cleaner air to citizens despite an increase in energy use.

Tested in the State of the Air report were two types of pollution: ozone and particle pollution.

Article pollution – A mix of very tiny solid and liquid particles that are in the air we breathe. It is so dangerous it can shorten your life. (Definition from The American Lung Association)

Ozone pollution – Ozone (O3) is a gas molecule composed of three oxygen atoms. Often called “smog,” ozone is harmful to breathe. Ozone aggressively attacks lung tissue by reacting chemically with it. (Definition from The American Lung Association)

Separately or combined, these two types of pollution can significantly exacerbate existing health problems and target those at risk. Older and younger people, people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and people in poverty are some of the groups of people effected by areas with high airborne and ozone pollution. And while these two factors are still high in some areas, researchers see a change in findings in this year’s State of the Air report like Los Angeles, for example.

“Los Angeles remained the city with the worst ozone pollution problem, but reported its fewest unhealthy ozone days since the State of the Air reports began.” (American Lung Association)

Big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C., and New York pose a higher risk of emitting more toxic and carbon pollution, and because of a higher population, more vehicle emissions. All of these cities are on the lists of most polluted by particles and ozone, while Denver, for example, is on the list of “Cleanest Counties for Short-term Particle Pollution.”

Four cities ranked as the cleanest: Bismarck (ND), Cape Coral-Fort Myers (FL), Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville (FL), and Rapid City (SD) which means they had no unhealthy days of ozone levels or short-term particle pollution.

What can you we do to help protect the air that enters our lungs?

The United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages people to help clean the air around them:

  • Drive less (which lowers the amount of vehicle emissions in the air) through carpooling
  • Refrain from burning wood or trash
  • Use less electricity

Ridding the air of harmful contaminants seems to be on the forefront of American minds as the State of the Air report finds an increase of the quality of air in the last 40 years. Until then, the American Lung Association will not breathe easy until the air is cleaner and healthier.

When it comes to indoor air quality, try to reduce indoor air pollution from smoking, unnatural and potentially harmful candles, and try using an air purifier like a Venta Airwasher to make sure you and your family are staying healthy while you stay indoors.