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Air Quality Improving in Many U.S. Cities: Report
Date:4/25/2012

WEDNESDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- Air quality in America's most polluted cities has improved significantly over the past decade, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.

Even Los Angeles, famous for its morning smog, is the cleanest it's been in 13 years, the association noted. Santa Fe, N.M. leads the pack, having been ranked as the cleanest city in the nation.

Despite progress in reducing the level of smog and soot in the air, the "State of the Air" report warned that unhealthy levels of air pollution still persist around the country.

"'State of the Air' shows that we're making real and steady progress in cutting dangerous pollution from the air we breathe," Charles Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in an association news release. "We owe this to the ongoing protection of the Clean Air Act. But despite these improvements, America's air quality standards are woefully outdated, and unhealthy levels of air pollution still exist across the nation, putting the health of millions of Americans at stake."

In rating the air quality in cities and counties around the country, the lung association takes into account the color-coded Air Quality Index developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which alerts the public about unhealthy air conditions. The report, released Wednesday, also used data collected by the EPA from 2008 to 2010 on ozone and particle pollution.

The report found drastic improvements in 18 of the 25 cities most polluted by ozone. Nine out of the top 10 cities most polluted by ozone were in California. Topping the list was Los Angeles, although it showed the lowest smog levels since the report was first published back in 2000.

Particle pollution also dropped significantly in 17 of the 25 most polluted cities, including Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. This mix of microscopic bits of ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemi
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