When discussing air pollution, it's all too common to think of it as someone else's problem, and this view is unfortunately very common in many developed countries. However, a recent article from The Guardian has highlighted the dangers of air pollution in the U.S., stating that one in three people in the country lives in areas with harmful levels of pollutants.
Overall, nearly 120 million people in the United States are exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution and the vast majority of the most polluted counties are located in California.
Despite decreases in air quality and air pollution-related deaths over the past five decades, there is an increasing disparity in air quality levels between the east and west coasts of the country. This is largely due to the increasing prevalence of wildfires along the western coast.
Old urban pollution hotspots such as New York have improved air quality and have since been surpassed by Pittsburgh and Lancaster in Pennsylvania, which are now the most polluted metropolitan areas in the east of the United States.
While overall air quality levels have improved since the 1970s due to more stringent air pollution policies, air pollution continues to threaten the health of over 100 million people, including 24 million children.
The report also highlights the impact of air pollution on people of colour, with 54% of the 120 million impacted people being people of colour despite only making up only around 40% of the overall population.
This report highlights a few important factors regarding air pollution that need to be considered. Firstly, it isn't an issue isolated to developing countries, and secondly, while air quality levels are improving in many areas, much work remains to be done.