What's the State of Your Air?
According to the report, air pollution is below the World Health Organization benchmark in Australia, Brunei, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden, and several Pacific island nations while it is much higher than safe levels in Niger, Egypt, Cameroon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
On the positive side: Particulate pollution is getting better, most likely because coal plants are shutting down with the switch toward natural gas, the report says. However, the metro area earned a "Pass" in all recorded metrics for pollution, meaning levels were below the weighted national average.
However, when looking at the long term changes in air quality, Knoxville has come a very long way - particularly in reducing ozone pollution. Fresno was the fourth-most ozone-polluted. The latest report covered the years 2014-16.
"We know that ozone is not something that is produced directly out of smokestacks and tailpipes, but rather the precursors to ozone air pollution are emitted and then cook in the atmosphere especially in hot, sunny, still summer days", Stewart said. Wildfires can also cause spikes in particle pollution, which can affect respiratory and cardiovascular health.
More than 95% of the world's population breathe unsafe air and the burden is falling hardest on the poorest communities, with the gap between the most polluted and least polluted countries rising rapidly, a comprehensive study of global air pollution has found.
The county, however, had 23 high ozone days, according to figures in the report.
"State of the Air" 2018 also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, as these can be extremely risky and even lethal.
That's why the Lung Association calls for the Clean Air Act to remain in place, funded and enforced.
"Unfortunately, some in Congress seek changes to the Clean Air Act that would dismantle key provisions of the law and threaten the progress made over almost five decades", the authors of the report, released Wednesday, explained. "What this recent winter episode showed us is our potential is there for the levels to skyrocket", he said. "Exposure to "household air pollution" also has a substantial impact on health and is ranked 8th in risk factors for early death, with 2.6 million attributable deaths in 2016", according to the report.
Columbia and Sauk counties both got Cs.
All told, long-term exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to 6.1 million premature deaths from stroke, heart attack, lung cancer, and chronic lung disease.
However, the report also said that levels of "dirty" air pollution are decreasing in the United States, as tailpipes and smokestacks produce cleaner exhaust. "It's important for people to pay attention and to fight for cleaner air".
Sullivan County is the only Tennessee county that doesn't now meet the federal Environmental Protection Agency's standards.
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