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Environment & Energy

Air Pollution Better But Still Bad

The American Lung Association's State of the Air Report shows the Pittsburgh metro area is the sixth most polluted in the country for fine particle pollution and twentieth for ozone pollution.

Fine particles are inhaled deeply into the lungs and can increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer and asthma. Ozone irritates the lungs and is especially harmful to the young, the elderly, and outdoor exercisers.

The Lung Association's Kevin Stewart says scientific findings since the Clean Air Act was passed and amended show that standards should be raised to truly protect human health. Those who say it's either jobs or the environment are presenting a false choice, according to Stewart. "…history shows we can not only have both, but improving air quality is essential for a healthier economy because a healthier work force can do more work and be more productive."

Stewart said anonymous polling shows the great majority of American citizens want Clean Air Act rules to be enforced. The EPA estimates that 230,000 deaths can be avoided and $2 trillion saved by 2020 if Clean Air Act standards are met.

In spite of failing grades, the report shows air quality here is the best it's been since monitoring began in 2000.