Goodbye, Farewell, So Lung
About one in two Americans breathe unhealthy air, according to a report released today by the American Lung Association. In real numbers, that translates to more than 142 million Americans living in areas where the U.S. EPA has found smog levels to be unhealthful. A lot of those areas are in — you guessed it — California: Six of the nation’s 10 smoggiest counties are in the Golden State, while the others are in Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. If you’re looking to coddle your lungs, you could try moving to (among other cities) Spokane, Wash., Colorado Springs, Colo., Duluth, Minn., Flagstaff, Ariz., Lincoln, Neb., or Honolulu, Hawaii, all of which earned high marks from the American Lung Association. Or you could try pressuring the U.S. government to enforce pollution standards: The report blamed the widespread poor air quality on industry pressure and the resultant failure of the feds to stand by clean air rules. The U.S. EPA estimates that enforcing existing clean air standards would prevent 15,000 premature deaths, 350,000 asthma cases, and 1 million childhood respiratory problems per year.