"The Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol metro area has the best grades they've ever had for ground level ozone smog and for fine particle pollution", Kevin Stewart, the Director of Environmental Health with the American Lung Association says.
Overall, the annual report says California has the dubious distinction of being home to the majority of the Top 10 cities with ozone and particle pollution in the United States. Bakersfield was ranked as the worst for short-term particle pollution.
In addition, Hartford County continued to be one of 82 USA counties with the lowest level of short-term particle pollution.
The cities with the worst year-round particle air pollution were Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif., Bakersfield, Calif., Fresno-Madera, Calif., San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif., Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif., Modesto-Merced, Calif., El Centro, Calif., Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, Pa. -Ohio-W.Va., Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif.
In the 2016 report, which examined 2012 to 2014, the county had five days above standard levels.
Photo for air pollution story.
Days with excessive ozone, which can trigger asthma attacks and worsen other lung problems, were down over previous year.
Napa County got B grades for both ozone and particle pollution.
High ozone levels increase the risk of premature death for residents, according to the lung association.
"State of the Air" 2017 is the Lung Association's 18th annual, national air quality "report card". Seilback pointed to the Clean Air Act.
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"Some disturbing spikes in daily particle pollution levels especially in areas that might be more affected by climate change", said Stewart.
To identify the 25 most polluted USA cities, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the metropolitan statistical areas with the highest levels of ozone pollution, measured in days in a year when the concentration of ozone, or smog, exceeded the EPA standard from the ALA's 2017 "State of the Air 2017" report.
Ozone pollution and particle pollution make up the two most widespread types of air pollution.
The report also found an increase in risky short-term spikes in particle pollution, or the tiny solid and liquid particles mixed into the air we breathe. "This law has driven the improvements in air quality for 47 years". "We look at one measure of ozone, how many bad air days there are over the course of the three years for which we have the most recent validated air quality data".
Houston has improved its ozone pollution levels since 1996, when records started to be kept.
Allegan County had the highest average number of high ozone days at 6.7 a year.
"While California continues to move forward with policies like strong standards to reduce vehicle emissions, the federal government wants to move backwards", said Diaz-Lapham.
The report argues air pollution represents a "real public health crisis", threatening people with asthma attacks and lung diseases, and suggests climate change is exacerbating conditions.
Much of the air quality improvement came from cleaning up major pollution sources, such as coal-fired power plants, and retiring old, dirty diesel engines, the Lung Association said.