The State of the Air 2012
Have you read the American Lung Association's State of the Air 2012 report? If not, I urge you to check it out immediately. Visit the website and see what the grade is for where you live. You may be surprised.
The good news? Things are getting better. Air quality is improving.
The bad news? We still have a long way to go. Over 127 million people live in counties that received an "F" for pollution. California has the most polluted cities on the list.
Why is it so important to know about the State of the Air?
Janice Nolen, National Policy Adviser and State of the Air Project Director for the American Lung Association answers that question: "Because all of us have to breathe it. We don't have choices." She went on to explain that it's so important to know what our air quality is like so we can take steps to protect our families and ourselves. Breathing in polluted air can be damaging to your health and possibly even shorten your life.
What can we do if we're unhappy with our rankings?
Support steps to clean up the air. The strongest ever public health law was the Clean Air Act in 1970. It's important to make sure that it is enforced and passed. In the past, there has been bipartisan support for the Clean Air Act, but sadly, there's been pushback in Congress.
Some parts of the Clean Air Act that were passed in 1990 just went into place last December. And now they're being challenged. Stay aware and support the law.
Additionally, keep up to date on local initiatives. For example, some cities might be using old fleets of school buses, which could contribute to air pollution. Support any initatives that would phase out those polluting buses.
What kinds of things contribute to poor air quality?
You probably are familiar with the usual: gas, coal-fire plants, diesel engines. There are also a few less obvious culprits: wood burning stoves (which create particle pollution), gas stations, tractors, marine vessels, and dry cleaners. While one dry cleaner may not create too much air pollution, if there are ten dry cleaners in one city it can really add up.
How can I contact Congress to tell them that I support clean air?
Fill out this brief form and it will automatically get sent to your Senators and Congressional Representatives.