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More Than Half of Americans Living with Dirty Air
Date:4/29/2009

Survey finds many cities have dangerously high levels of pollution

WEDNESDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of the nation's population, 186.1 million people to be exact, live and breathe in communities with dangerously high levels of air pollution, new research shows.

"Six out of ten Americans live in areas dirty enough to send people to the emergency room, to shape how kids' lungs develop and even dirty enough to kill," Charles D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association said during a teleconference Tuesday to present the findings of the association's State of the Air 2009 report.

"Forty million Americans live in counties where the air quality has failed every single test," he continued. "Even as our nation explores the complex challenges of global warming and energy independence, we still must recognize the problems we have with old-fashioned air pollution."

Although there have been some improvements in the nation's overall air health over the past decade, those gains are leveling out, said Janice E. Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy and advocacy at the lung association.

And recent measures that are not yet having an effect (but likely will) are counterbalanced by the world's insatiable need for more electricity, she added.

"It's not nearly the direction that we need to take," Nolen said.

But there was good news for the residents of Fargo, N.D., which won the top spot as the nation's cleanest city overall -- the only one to pass the grade in all three categories of air pollution: ozone pollution, year-round particle pollution and short-term (24-hour) particle pollution.

Seventeen other cities ranked high in two of the three categories: Billings, Mont.; Bismarck, N.D.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Farmington, N.M.; Ft. Collins, Colo.; Honolulu; Lincoln, Neb.; Midland-Odessa, Texas; Port St. Lucie, Fla.; Pueb
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