The US does not have 'the world's cleanest and safest air,' as Trump has claimed. These are the 8 states with the worst air pollution.
- President Donald Trump has falsely said that the US has the purest air in the world, but in fact, it ranks 10th.
- According to the American Lung Association, the 25 US cities with the most air pollution are mostly clustered in 8 states.
- Air pollution - which includes particle and ozone pollution - causes 8.8 million deaths annually worldwide and is linked to health problems like childhood asthma and cognitive decline in older adults.
- These are the eight most polluted states in the US, based on the number of people at risk.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
"Who's got the world's cleanest and safest air and water? AMERICA!" President Donald Trump tweeted earlier this month.Unfortunately, that's not true. Advertisement
The US ranks 10th worldwide when it comes to overall air quality, according to The Environmental Performance Index, an analysis by scientists at Yale and Columbia. Australia comes in first.
What's more, air quality in the US has been declining after decades of improvement, according to reporting from the Associated Press. Using data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the AP found that there were 15% more bad air days per US city last year than the average from preceding years.Read More: President Trump keeps falsely saying the US has the 'world's cleanest and safest air.' Actually, he's making pollution worse.
Of course, levels of air pollution are not equal across the US. According to the 2019 "State of the Air" report from the American Lung Association (ALA) - which compiled pollution data from 2015 to 2017 - the 25 US cities with the worst air pollution are mostly located in eight states.California topped the list, followed by Oregon and Washington. Los Angeles is the city with the worst ozone pollution - LA has topped that list in 19 of the last 20 of these reports. The area of California around Fresno, Madera, and Hanford was found to have the most year-round particle pollution, while Bakersfield, California was the city with the worst short-term particle pollution.Advertisement
There are myriad health risks associated with air pollution, including reduced lung function and increased risk of asthma. Dirty air causes an estimated 8.8 million deaths worldwide every year.
Here are the eight US states with the worst air pollution.
The ALA report evaluates three types of air pollution: short-term particulate matter, year-long particulate matter, and ozone pollution. California ranked the worst across all of them.
Particulate matter (PM) refers to dust and other tiny particles floating in the air that are smaller than 2.5 microns wide — that's 30 times skinnier than a strand of human hair.Advertisement
Ground-level ozone pollution, meanwhile, is the result of a chemical reaction in which sunlight interacts with pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, and refineries.
The report found that more than four in 10 Americans, approximately 43% of the population, live in counties that have experienced unhealthy ozone or particle pollution.Advertisement
Breathing polluted air can have dangerous, long-term effects on the brain.
In the US, over 6 million children had ongoing asthma in 2016.Advertisement
Overall, air pollution contributes to an estimated 8.8 million extra deaths globally every year.
Another state with particularly air pollution, according to the ALA report, is Oregon. The areas around Bend, Eugene, and Portland all made the list of the 25 cities with the most short-term particulate matter.Advertisement
Washington has similar issues — the state has four cities on the list of the 25 places with the most short-term particulate matter.
Despite its location outside the continental US, parts of Alaska are also among the most polluted in the country.Advertisement
Texas also ranks among the US' most polluted states, particularly in terms of ozone pollution. Houston, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the region around El Paso all made the list of the top 25 most polluted cities.
More than a dozen counties in Pennsylvania received a failing grade for air pollution from the American Lung Association.Advertisement
The area of Illinois around Chicago and Naperville is also among the most polluted in terms of both ozone and year-round PM pollution.
Six counties in Montana received failing grades for short-term PM pollution, with Missoula ranking as the fifth-worst city in the US in that category.Advertisement
The American Lung Association also listed the six US cities that are cleanest in terms of ozone and particle pollution.
However, the overall number of Americans exposed to polluted air increased to nearly 141.1 million between 2015 and 2017. That's up from the total of 133.9 million between 2014 and 2016. This EPA map shows the counties that had not met the agency's Clean Air Act standards as of last year.Advertisement
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