The annual ‘State of Air’ report – which has been launched every year since the Clean Air Pact of 1970 – has revealed that 150 million Americans are breathing in dangerously polluted air. Pollution levels in the air, technically known as PM2.5, are linked to the same causes as climate change, which in turn exacerbates pollution levels, the research found.
The pollution levels are caused by the likes of wood-burning stoves, coal-fired power plants, diesel engines and wildfires.
In turn, climate change and the heating planet makes wildfires more likely.
Particle pollution can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes and cause lung cancer.
The research led by the American Lung Association found that California is the most polluted state, with the top five most polluted cities in the country all being found in California, with Los Angeles taking the top spot.
The cleanest city in terms of pollution is Bangor, in the state of Maine.
The research said the need for clean air is now even more prevalent amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, which can seriously damage the respiratory system.
American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer said: “The report finds the air quality in some communities has improved, but the ‘State of the Air’ finds that far too many people are still breathing unhealthy air.
“This year’s report shows that climate change continues to degrade air quality and increase the risk of air pollution harming health.
“To protect the advances in air quality we fought for 50 years ago through the Clean Air Act, we must again act today, implementing effective policies to protect our air quality and lung health against the threat of climate change.”
He added: “Air pollution is linked to greater risk of lung infection.
“Protecting everyone from COVID-19 and other lung infections is an urgent reminder of the importance of clean air.
“Every family has the right to breathe healthy air – and the right to know when air pollution levels are unhealthy.
“The Clean Air Act is a powerful protector of public health and Americans breathe healthier air today because of this landmark law.
“But climate change poses increasingly dire threats to air quality and lung health, and our leaders must take immediate, significant action to safeguard the air we all breathe.”
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