Dangerous Air Pollution on Rise Across US

Apr 25, 2022

More Americans are breathing unhealthy air, including 63 million people in counties suffering from air with dangerous “particulate matter.” That's revealed in a new report.  

The alarming stats come from a report on US air quality by the American Lung Association (ALA). Despite decades of efforts to reduce air pollution across the US, the report found that more than 137 million Americans live in places with poor air quality. That's roughly 40% of the US population. Such poor air quality can be harmful to health.        

Air pollution comes from a number of sources like vehicle and factory emissions. Now, wildfires in the West are increasingly a contributing factor.   

The ALA found that 9 million more people lived in counties with the most dangerous air quality than in 2021. It also showed that people in the US lived through more “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” air quality days than in any of the past 22 years. Experts believe wildfires are a major cause. They burn hotter, faster, and longer than they used to. 

Air pollution occurs when particles from emissions stay in the air. They can contain dust, ash, soot, and metals. Air pollution can come in the form of smog, or ground-level ozone. Or it can come in the form of soot, sometimes called “particulate matter.”   

Smog occurs on hot, sunny days. Emissions from cars, trucks, and factories make it worse. Smog can irritate lungs and put people with lung problems such as asthma at high risk of breathing problems. But soot can be even deadlier. It causes more premature deaths and lung cancer than smog, the ALA said.     

Photo from Reuters.

Question
According to both the article and the infographic, how many Americans live in cities with poor air quality that can negatively impact their health? (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. roughly 4 in 10
b. more than 137 million
c. 63 million
d. A and B
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