Air Pollution Still a Problem Across the Country

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Air pollution levels continue to be a problem across the country. Many areas face levels of air pollution that are incredibly unhealthy for its residents. Some states are trying to fight against air pollution levels. Governor Jerry Brown of California announced Wednesday an ambitious plan that will hopefully reduce the amount of pollution in the state. His planned proposal will aim to cut emissions by 40 percent of what they were in 1990. This is to help combat the potentially serious effects of global warming, which include super droughts and rising sea levels.

It is known that air pollution is harmful to the planet but recent studies have shown just how harmful it can be to your health. One report that was released this week shows a correlation between air pollution and lower birth rates. Researchers found this by looking at public health records for Beijing, China. Research has found that babies born following Beijing hosting the Olympics had a higher birth weight than babies born before or a year after. This is due to the fact that Chinese officials were made to cut down on the amount of pollution in the country. This was a condition of Beijing hosting the Olympics. Beijing is commonly known as one of the most polluted cities in the world, and cutting down on emissions was no easy task. The Chinese government had halted construction in areas, closed factories, and kept cars off the road in order to try to combat the pollution. This shows that even a slight change in the pollution levels can lead to immediate health benefits.

The health risks are not only for babies but for the elderly as well. It is shown that air pollution is linked with lower cerebral brain volume. This does naturally occur in the aging process, but polluted air only makes things worse by speeding up the process. This was found through a study of 943 men who were exposed to a pollutant called PM 2.5.

Air pollution is not just a problem overseas, but also across the United States. There are an estimated 138 million Americans who live in counties that have unhealthy pollution rates. Even though some areas of the country are still struggling with unhealthy air, some cities are making great strides in the pollution problems. San Diego, California is one of these cities. Every year, the American Lung Association release their “State of the Air” report, and this year, the report has found that San Diego is actually making steps to curb emissions. In years past, San Diego has been in the top 25 of the most polluted cities in the country. This will be the first time, since the American Lung Association began releasing these reports, that San Diego was not in the top 25. This is also the first time that the city did not receive a failing grade for its particle levels.

San Diego has been monitoring the city’s quality levels for the last 60 years, and this is the cleanest the city’s air has ever been. The biggest factor in San Diego’s air quality has been vehicle exhaust. Cars are now using much cleaner technologies and producing fewer harmful emissions. To help with the cities exhaust problem, the city offers incentives for people who upgrade their vehicle to one that uses cleaner technology. Last year, the city set aside $5.4 million in order to replace or upgrade vehicles.

Some of the worst polluted cities in America lie in California, but Governor Jerry Brown is hoping to change that. Some of the healthiest air in the country are Prescott, Arizona; Farmington, New Mexico; and Palm Bay, Florida. The air pollution across the country still remains a problem today. but hopefully that will change in the near future.

By James Dixson

UT San Diego 
RTT News
Photo By:  hapal – Creativecommons Flickr License 

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