How clean is your air? Most U.S. cities with the dirtiest air are getting cleaner but half of Americans still live in in areas where it's often difficult to breathe, the American Lung Association reports today.
Los Angeles remains the smoggiest metro area, although it's improved significantly in the last decade, and Bakersfield, Calif., has the worst particle pollution such as soot and ash, both on a daily and annual level, according to the ALA's 12th annual "State of the Air" report.
In fact, eight of the 10 cities with the worst ozone or smog are located in California and six of the 10 worst for particle pollution -- both short term and annually -- are also in the state. In contrast, Honolulu and Santa Fe ranked as the two cities with the cleanest air overall, says the report, based on the most recently available data from the Environmental Protection Agency. (Lists of cities with the cleanest and dirtiest air follow.)
EPA's 2009 data, released last week, shows total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — primarily carbon dioxide — fell 6.1% from 2008, the largest decline in at least five years. The agency, which began a multiyear plan to regulate these emissions in January, attributed the drop to less polluting fuels and lower energy consumption because of the recession.