Clean Air Awareness Month: The 5 U.S. Cities with Highest Levels of Ozone Pollution
Clean Air Month and Asthma Awareness Month is in full swing- as is the summer ozone season in Southern California. The American Lung Association, which sponsors Clean Air Month, recently shared a report that over 119 million residents in the United States, or roughly one in four people, are exposed to air pollution that can harm their health and reduce their life expectancy. Unfortunately, people of color and those living in Western cities are more likely to be affected.
Despite some progress, over 100 million people still live in counties with unacceptable levels of ozone smog. The majority of the most polluted cities are located in the West and Southwest, with California alone accounting for 10 of the 25 most polluted cities. Only three cities east of the Mississippi River - New York, Chicago, and Hartford - made the list.
The five metropolitan areas with the highest levels of ozone pollution are:
1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
2. Visalia, California
3. Bakersfield, California
4. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, California
5. Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona
It's essential to note that just because air pollution is invisible and may not be immediately noticeable, it doesn't mean it's not harmful. According to the World Health Organization, the combination of ambient and household air pollution contributes to 6.7 million premature deaths worldwide every year. Therefore, it's crucial to take steps to improve air quality and protect public health.
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How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Taking care to improve indoor air quality can help promote good health and reduce the risk of respiratory problems. While you might not be able to control the quality of the air outside around you, there are some steps you can take to reduce contaminants in indoor air:
- Keep your home clean: Regular cleaning can help to reduce dust, pet dander, and other allergens that can worsen indoor air quality. Be sure to use non-toxic cleaning products to avoid introducing harmful chemicals into the air.
- Improve ventilation: Proper ventilation can help to remove pollutants and improve indoor air quality. You can improve ventilation by opening windows and doors, installing exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, turning on your range hood while cooking, or using air filters and purifiers.
- Control humidity: High humidity levels can promote the growth of mold and mildew, which can worsen indoor air quality. Use a dehumidifier to control humidity levels and prevent mold growth.
- Eliminate smoking: Smoking can release harmful chemicals into the air and worsen indoor air quality. Avoid smoking indoors and encourage others to do the same.
- Use natural air fresheners: Synthetic air fresheners can introduce harmful chemicals into the air. Instead, use natural air fresheners like essential oils or herbs.
- Go green: Certain plants can help to purify the air and improve indoor air quality. Examples include spider plants, peace lilies, and bamboo palms.
- Test for radon: Radon is a radioactive gas that can seep into homes and worsen indoor air quality. Test for radon and take steps to reduce levels if necessary.
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