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April 21, 2021

Chairwoman Johnson Statement on American Lung Association’s ‘State of the Air’ Report

(Washington, DC) – Today, the American Lung Association (ALA) released their annual “State of the Air” report. For the past 22 years, the ALA has analyzed data from official air quality monitors to compile this report.
Top-line findings:
  • More than four in ten Americans (41.1% – more than 135 million Americans) live in counties that had unhealthy ozone or particle pollution in 2017-2019. 
  • Close to 20.7 million people, or 6.3% of Americans, live in the 13 counties that failed all three measures. Of these 20.7 million people, 14 million are people of color. 
  • This year’s report continues to demonstrate that climate change is degrading air quality in the United States and increasing the risk of air pollution harming health. Climate change results in increased ozone air pollution, more frequent and intense wildfire smoke, and makes it more difficult to clean up air pollution 
  • Many cities reached their highest number of days with unhealthy levels of particle pollution ever reported. Of the 25 most-polluted cities, 8 had more unhealthy particle pollution days on average in this year’s report. Smoke from wildfires and wood burning to heat homes played a big role in these spikes 
Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) made the following statement.
“The American Lung Association’s report on the state of the air makes stark the reality in which we live: more than 40% of all Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of ozone and particulate pollution. Unsurprisingly, these impacts are felt more strongly in communities of color and low-income communities.
“My home of Dallas County received an “F” rating on ozone pollution and “C" rating on 24-hour particle pollution. These ratings are unacceptable, especially given that exposure to air pollution has been linked to worse outcomes from COVID-19 as well other respiratory diseases such as asthma. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) role is critical in upholding the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), to protect the public from harmful air pollutants. Under the leadership of Administrator Regan, the EPA is taking the steps to ensure that NAAQS are informed by sound science which will be vital to protecting public health. I look forward to working with Administrator Regan and the Biden Administration so that the next state of the air report shows improved air quality across the country, for all Americans.”