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While dangerous pollutants still threaten the health of millions of Americans, the United States has made great strides in clearing the air, according to the American Lung Association. In its annual State of the Air 2012 report, the organization said that between 2001 and 2010, ozone levels dropped 13%, year-round particle pollution declined 24% and short-term particle pollution 28% thanks to the Clean Air Act.

Pollution report: More Americans breathing easier” – CNN

The American Lung Association report credits the federal Clean Air Act for cleaning up coal-fired power plants and reducing emissions from diesel-engine vehicles and SUVs. Despite the improvements, Lung Association President Charles D. Connor called existing air quality standards “woefully outdated” in a statement, noting that millions of Americans are still exposed to unhealthy air every day.

Nation’s Air Improving, Even in L.A.” – WebMD

Air quality in the United States is the cleanest it’s ever been, but about 41 percent of Americans still live in areas with harmful pollution levels, according to the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2012” report released on Wednesday.  The annual report, which examined ozone and particle-pollution levels for 2008-2010, found signs of improvement in many U.S. cities, but noted that more than 127 million people live in areas with dangerous ozone or particle pollution. These unhealthy levels of air pollution can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature deaths. They are particularly risky for infants, children, older adults and those with respiratory diseases such as asthma.

Air Pollution Endangers 41 Percent of Americans, Lung Association Report Finds” – National Journal

American Lung Association project director Janice Nolen told The Huffington Post that the continued cleanup of power plants and fleet turnover has led to improvements. “Cleaning up air pollution has measurable public health benefits,” Nolen said. During the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, for example she said, morning traffic levels decreased by 23 percent, the region’s ozone levels decreased by 28 percent, and pediatric asthma emergency room visits dropped by an estimated 42 percent.

State Of The Air 2012: American Lung Association Reports Improvements, Challenges” – Huffington Post

“We still need to fulfill the promise of clean, healthy air for everyone, and that can only become a reality through the full implementation of the Clean Air Act. The American Lung Association strongly opposes any efforts to weaken, delay, or undermine the protective standards the law provides,” said Charles Connor, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “The American Lung Association has been leading the fight for clean air for decades, and we are as determined as ever to give every American the clean air they deserve to breathe every day.”

Air Quality Improving in Many U.S. Cities: Report” – HealthDay

The Lung Association reports that air pollution can cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, lung conditions and difficulty breathing for some people. In fact, more than 40% of Americans, or 127 million people, live in areas where air pollution sometimes hits unhealthy levels. The good news is that air quality has been improving across the country. “Even cities at the top of the list saw some of the best scores we have ever seen for them,” notes Nolen. “It doesn’t mean they don’t have a problem but we are headed in the right direction.” And some of the top cities of years past — namely Detroit, Mich. and York, Pa. – have dropped out of the top 25.

America’s Most Polluted Cities” – Forbes

FACT: Some of the biggest sources of air pollution are dirty power plants, old diesel vehicles and heavy equipment, and ocean-going vessels.

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