In many posts on this blog, we cover the worrying levels of air pollution across the world. The problem is well noted in places like China where air pollution is staggeringly high. However a recent report suggested that there are real issues with air pollution in North America too.
A recent report by the American Lung Association (ALA) suggested that nearly 50% of Americans live in areas where the air is bad for their health. That is the air contains high levels of smog and soot particles in the atmosphere which can cause health damage. That’s almost 150 million people who’s health is at risk simply because of the air that they breathe.
The report took their data from a 2 year period 2010-2012, and looked a major American cities and metropolitan areas. In 22 out of the 25 areas, the air quality has got worse and climate change is probably only going to increase that trend with higher levels of smog or ozone.
To some extent the levels were effected by the weather, the temperatures over the report period were much higher than normal – this would cause higher ozone readings. However this is part of the real challenge as temperatures rise then pollution in the air is going to rise too.
The extent to which the pollution can cause health problems has not been extensively researched. However there is a growing belief that the body is affected negatively by much lower levels of smog than was previously thought. There are efforts of course being made to reduce the emissions that cause this pollution – many American cities have made great strides in this area. However it is becoming apparent that this is not nearly enough to even control the quality of our air, let alone improve it.
John Simpson is a technology and environmental blogger.