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Pittsburgh Wins an Award, But L.A. Still Rules

Posted By Sarah Backhouse On May 14, 2008 @ 1:51 am In Green Report / Media | No Comments

Here’s some big news for the week: the city of Pittsburgh wins an award. Hooray! The twentieth largest city in the United States, which is home to over 2 million people, takes home the prize for… oh, wait — hang on… better re-cork that champagne…

Pittsburgh wins the award for the worst short-term particle pollution in the country. Not so much worth celebrating, is it?

The American Lung Association issued its annual report card on air pollution, ranking cities on three types of air pollution: short-term particle pollution; year-round particle pollution; and ozone pollution. It’s the first time in history that a city outside of California has topped a most polluted list. The other two category “awards” goes to Los Angeles.

Pittsburgh’s dubious distinction of having the most short-term particle pollution can be attributed to “a deadly cocktail of ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols that can spike dangerously for hours to weeks on end.” Yikes. According to the American Lung Association, coughing and sneezing won’t keep these nasties from burrowing deep into our lungs, triggering asthma, heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and even early death.

On a non-smirky note, I’m pleased to report that despite still topping two of the three pollution lists, the City of Angels saw continued improvements in air quality with particle pollution dropping by a third in the last decade and improvements in the smog levels. Said Bernadette Toomey, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Lung Association: “We applaud the aggressive efforts of Los Angeles to control particle pollution. It’s proof that making a commitment to clean up pays off.”

Considering the fact that “one in 10 people in the U.S. live in areas with unhealthful levels of all three types of pollution: ozone, short-term and year-round particle pollution; and nearly one-third of the U.S. population lives in areas with unhealthful levels of ozone”, it shows we still have a long way to go clean up the air we breathe.

(via Green Daily)


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