The Phoenix metro area has some of the most polluted air in the country according to the American Lung Association’s newest State of the Air report released this week.
The city ranked seventh in the U.S. for ozone as well as seventh for year-round particle pollution. The American Lung Association also listed Phoenix as number 10 for short-term particle pollution.
“Overall, people in Arizona face significant air quality challenges,” said American Lung Association Senior Advocacy Director, JoAnna Strother in a press release. “Transportation, woodstoves, coupled with extreme heat and droughts come more frequently as our climate changes, our air pollution burdens are placing our health and lives at risk … because of climate change, the nation is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to protecting public health–especially in the western United States.”
According to the report, which covers the years 2016, 2017 and 2018, Flagstaff and Yuma saw slight improvements in ozone. No particle pollution data was available for Flagstaff. According to the American Lung Association, however, climate change fuels wildfires, which increase particle pollution through smoke and could impact communities near forests.
Topping the lists for ozone and particle pollution were California cities Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and Fresno. The Lung Association says the air pollutants threaten millions of Americans and cause lung and cardiovascular problems, asthma and other serious health issues.
The State of the Air report found that nearly half of all Americans were exposed to unhealthy air between 2016 and 2018, and older adults, children and those with lung disease are especially vulnerable.