WEDNESDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) -- Although many Americans are now breathing cleaner air, others are living in cities that are more polluted than they were a decade ago, a new report shows.
"The long-term trend is positive and headed to much cleaner air," said report author Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy and advocacy for the American Lung Association. "[However], there is an uptick in some areas that are a concern and some areas where the problem remains very, very serious."
The report, conducted by the American Lung Association, measured the levels of ozone and small particles in the air, known as soot, in almost 1,000 cities and counties in the United States between 2009 and 2011. About half of the 25 most polluted cities had improved since last year's report, and many of those cities were the cleanest they had been since the association began the research in 2000.
Unfortunately, the other half of the 25 most polluted cities was worse off. Even among the cities that improved, many were still near the top of the most-polluted list, including Los Angeles, which had the most ozone pollution, and Bakersfield, Calif., which had the highest level of particle pollution.
In total, there were 254 counties with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution, and about 132 million people (42 percent of the U.S. population) live in these areas. The previous report had found that 127 million people (41 percent of the U.S. population) resided in areas with poor air quality.
In addition to the California cities, Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Cincinnati, New York City and Washington, D.C., were among the metropolitan areas that had high levels of ozone. As for year-round levels of soot, many of the same cities in California topped the list, as well as Cincinnati and Canton in Ohio; Philadelphia and Allentown in Pennsylvania; Louisville, Ky.; St
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