Air quality in the United States is the cleanest it's ever been, but about 41 percent of Americans still live in areas with harmful pollution levels, according to the American Lung Association's "State of the Air 2012" report released on Wednesday. California's cities have the worst pollution, while Santa Fe, N.M., has the cleanest city air, according to its findings.
The annual report, which examined ozone and particle-pollution levels for 2008-2010, found signs of improvement in many U.S. cities, but noted that more than 127 million people live in areas with dangerous ozone or particle pollution. These unhealthy levels of air pollution can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature deaths. They are particularly risky for infants, children, older adults and those with respiratory diseases such as asthma.
"We owe this to the ongoing protection of the Clean Air Act," Charles Connor, the American Lung Association's president and CEO, 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"But despite these improvements, America's air-quality standards are woefully outdated, and unhealthy levels of air pollution still exist across the nation, putting the health of millions of Americans at stake," Connor said.