Report Lists Worst, Best Cities for Air Quality

Sixty percent of Americans live in areas with unhealthy air pollution levels, despite a growing green movement and more stringent laws aimed at improving air quality, the American Lung Association said in a report, released April 29, 2009, that also listed the healthiest and unhealthiest cities across the U.S. in terms of air quality.

Air pollution continues to threaten the lives and health of millions of people in the United States despite great progress since the modern Clean Air Act was first passed in 1970. Even as the nation explores the complex challenges of global warming and energy, air pollution remains widespread and dangerous. This year marks the tenth annual American Lung Association ‘State of the Air’ report and provides an excellent opportunity to look back over the changes in the past ten years.

The 2009 report looks at ozone and particle pollution year-round (annual average) and over short-term levels (24-hour) of particle pollution (PM2.5) found in monitoring sites across the United States in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Looking at the nation as a whole, the American Lung Association State of the Air 2009 finds:

  • Six out of ten people (61.7%) in the United States population lives in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution.
  • Almost 186.1 million Americans live in the 525 counties where they are exposed to unhealthful levels of air pollution in the form of either ozone or short-term or year-round levels of particles.
  • Roughly six out of ten people in the United States- 58 percent-live in areas with unhealthful levels of ozone.
  • Roughly three out of ten people in the United States live in an area with unhealthful short-term levels of particle pollution, an increase from the last report.

For more information, or to view the complete report, visit:

Northern Research Station
United States Department of Agriculture
USDA Forest Service


Watch our latest webcast:

Watch our latest webcast

New Tools Showcase


News Watch

Here's what we are reading:

(News from