Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

U.S. Air Quality Decreased in Recent Years, Study Finds

Climate
U.S. Air Quality Decreased in Recent Years, Study Finds
Highrise buildings in downtown Los Angeles, California are seen on a hazy morning on September 21, 2018. Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

Nearly half of America's population lives in places where they are exposed to unhealthy air, an increase from numbers recorded over previous years, a new report finds.


The American Lung Association's 21st annual State of the Air report uses air pollution data collected by federal, state and local governments and tribes from the years 2016-2018 – the three hottest years on record – to map air quality across the United States and update findings from previous years. The number of people exposed to ozone and/or particle pollution was 150 million, an increase from the 141.1 million and 133.9 million in the 2019 and 2018 reports, respectively.

"What we've seen is that hot weather is making it more difficult to achieve health-based [air quality] standards," Paul Billings, the senior vice president for public policy at the American Lung Association, told NPR. "Climate change makes the conditions for formation of smog or ozone easier, so we need to do more to reduce the underlying emissions."

For a deeper dive:

NPR, CNN, ABC

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
Trending
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less
An Amazon.com Inc. worker walks past a row of vans outside a distribution facility on Feb. 2, 2021 in Hawthorne, California. PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP via Getty Images

Over the past year, Amazon has significantly expanded its warehouses in Southern California, employing residents in communities that have suffered from high unemployment rates, The Guardian reports. But a new report shows the negative environmental impacts of the boom, highlighting its impact on low-income communities of color across Southern California.

Read More Show Less