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Alert! America's Most Polluted Cities Revealed in 2016 State of Air Report

Apr 27, 2016 05:22 AM EDT
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According to the American Lung Association (ALA), more than half of the American population resides in "unhealthy hot spots." Are you one of them?
(Photo : David McNew/Getty Images)

According to the American Lung Association (ALA), more than half of the American population resides in "unhealthy hot spots." Are you one of them?

In its annual "State of the Air" report for 2016, ALA rounds out the cities with the most polluted air by considering two types of air pollution: ozone and particle pollution, measured in short-term spikes and year-long average.

Of the total American population, there is an estimated number of 166 million Americans at risk of premature death, the report reads.

Although it has noted that ozone pollution and year-round particle pollution had decreased dramatically, short-term particles has spiked.

"Since 2015, there have been more short-term spikes in particle pollution-in fact, seven of the 25 most polluted cities had their highest number of unhealthy short-term particle pollution days on average ever reported," Gizmodo notes.

Manmade emissions, especially from power plants, motor vehicles, and diesel exhaust are the biggest sources of pollutants in the atmosphere Paul Billings, senior vice president for advocacy at the ALA, told 24/7 Wall St. in an interview. 

These manmade emmisions are made worse by the aggravating climate change, resulting to unfortunate events like extreme drought and wildfires.

"Increased heat, changes in climate patterns, drought and wild fires are all related to climate change, which has contributed to the extraordinarily high numbers of days with unhealthy particulate matter," the report reads.

Of all the types of air pollution, particle pollutants are the most detrimental to human health. As mentioned by United States Environmental Protection Agency, "small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream"

For this year, majority of the cities with most short-term particle pollutants fall in California's Central Valley. Landing at the top spot is Bakersfield, which as described by TIME is "a major agricultural area that stretches through much of California. It is surrounded on all sides by mountains, creating a bowl that traps air pollution."

Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-Term Particle Pollution

  1. Bakersfield, California
  2. Fresno-Madera, California
  3. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, California
  4. Modesto-Merced, California
  5. Fairbanks, Alaska
  6. Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, Utah
  7. Logan, Utah-Idaho
  8. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California
  9. Los Angeles-Long Beach, California
  10. Missoula, Montana

Human health is not the only ones affected of pollutants from the agriculturalregions. Just recently, new research led by University of Colorado scientists found that nitrogen oxide and ammonia pollution poses threat to the diversity of plants in North America, Denver reports.

While Baker's field topped the particle pollution list, Los Angeles topped the list for most days with ozone pollution. "Heavy road traffic and a busy trade port are major contributors to Los Angeles' poor air pollution," CNN reported.

Of the 10 most ozone polluted cities, majority are again from California.

Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Ozone

  1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
  2. Bakersfield, CA
  3. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA
  4. Fresno-Madera, CA
  5. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
  6. Sacramento-Roseville, CA
  7. Modesto-Merced, CA
  8. Denver-Aurora, CO
  9. Las Vegas-Henderson, NV-AZ
  10. Fort Collins, CO

To protect yourself from unhealthy air, ALA recommends using less energy in home, avoiding exercising outside, opting for green transportation, refraining from burning wood and using hand-powered equipment rather than gasoline-powered ones.

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