2 May 2001

The American Lung Association (ALA) released its annual “State of the Air” report, which concludes that the number of Americans living in areas with ozone air pollution (smog) increased by more than 9 million or 15% compared with last year’s report - from 132 million to more than 141 million.

“Without a doubt, Americans’ health remains threatened by air pollution,” said John R. Garrison, Chief Executive Officer of the American Lung Association. “State of the Air confirms that ozone air pollution isn’t a hit-or-miss problem depending on where you live. Smog affects people’s ability to breathe throughout America-in small, medium and large metropolitan areas-every summer. And we see this at a time when clean air laws are being threatened in Washington.”

The 10 most ozone-polluted metropolitan areas are: Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA; Bakersfield, CA; Fresno, CA; Visalia-Tulare-Porterville, CA; Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, TX; Atlanta, GA; Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA-WV; Charlotte, Gastonia, Rock Hill, NC-SC; Knoxville, TN; and Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, PA-NJ-DE-MD. Areas with the cleanest air include Bellingham, WA; Colorado Springs, CO; Des Moines, IA; Duluth, MN; Fargo, ND; Flagstaff, AZ; Honolulu, HI; Laredo, TX; Lincoln, NE; McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX; Salinas, CA; and Spokane, WA.

State of the Air 2001 examines ozone air quality data for 1997-1999, which are the most recent quality-assured data from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); the 2000 report focused on data for 1996-1998. The report grades and ranks counties on how often their air quality exceeds “unhealthful” categories of the EPA’s Air Quality Index for ozone air pollution. State of the Air 2001 analyzes ozone data in all areas in which ozone monitors exist, representing a population base of more than 187 million Americans.

The American Lung Association said it strongly supported the 2007 diesel emission regulations that will significantly limit tailpipe emissions from heavy-duty diesel buses and trucks and require ultra low sulfur diesel fuel. These regulations, adopted by the EPA in December, are threatened by a lawsuit filed by the National Petroleum Refiners Association in February 2001, challenging the new diesel rule. The American Lung Association has filed a petition with the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to intervene in this lawsuit in support of the new regulations.

The ALA also is advocating for strict controls to limit emissions from non-road heavy-duty diesel engines and fuels, as well as controls that will clean up old power plants who have escaped emissions compliance through a loophole in the Clean Air Act.

Download the Report