The 2023 State of the Air Report is here, and there’s a lot to digest! Unsure what this report is all about? Here’s a quick refresh: For the past 24 years, the American Lung Association® (ALA) has published the report, documenting their findings from data retrieved from air quality monitors around the U.S. from 2019 to 2021. The report focuses on fine particles and ozone—two of the most threatening air pollutants.
To start with some good news, the ALA found that compared to last year’s air quality report, 17.6 million fewer people are breathing unhealthy air. This is in large part thanks to the Clean Air Act and subsequent lower levels of ozone throughout the country.¹
Below, we take a look at three other key findings from this year’s report.
Despite the decline in the number of people breathing unhealthy air, 119.6 million people still live in places where the air is deemed unhealthy.² According to this year’s analysis, 63.7 million people live in counties with failing grades for daily spikes in particle pollution. That represents the highest number reported in the past 10 years.
The ALA found the years covered in this report accounted for three of the seven hottest years on record globally. The increasing temperature is making it more challenging for states and cities to clean the air, plus millions of people are at risk because of high ozone days and spikes in particle pollution stemming from heat, wildfires and drought.¹
Of the nearly 120 million people living in places with unhealthy air, 54% are people of color (keep in mind that people of color make up 41% of the overall U.S. population). And of the 18 million people living in counties ranking poorly for three main pollution measures, 72% are people of color.¹ Specific data analyzed includes daily and long-term measures of particle pollution, as well as daily measures of ozone.
Achieving cleaner air and tackling climate change isn’t just a task for the government. Meaningful change can happen at the individual level, too. It can be as simple as opting for bikes, public transit or your own two feet, using clean energy and conserving electricity. Make an even bigger impact by switching to electric vehicles and zero-emission appliances.³
Even if you live in a place with generally clean air, poor air quality days can happen. You can check your local air pollution forecast at airnow.gov or use the Filtrete™ Smart App to monitor real-time outdoor air quality.