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40 percent of Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of particle Air Pollution: Report

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Air pollution is seen hanging over the city of Los Angeles. Six of the 10 cities with the worst air pollution are in California, according to a new report. (Flickr) VOA
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April 19, 2017: A new report says 40 percent of Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of particle air pollution.

The annual “State of the Air” report, released Wednesday by the American Lung Association, also found that six of the 10 cities with the worst air pollution were in California.

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The report found that 125 million Americans experience unhealthy levels of pollution, which has been linked to lung cancer, asthma and cardiovascular damage.

“While most of the nation has much cleaner air quality than even a decade ago, many cities reported their highest number of unhealthy days since the report began [18 years ago],” the report read.

The 10 worst cities for short-term particle air pollution were Bakersfield, Calif., Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif., Fresno-Madera, Calif., Modesto-Merced, Calif., Fairbanks, Ala., San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif., Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, Utah, Logan, Utah-Idaho, Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif. and Reno-Carson City-Fernley, Nev.

California’s air quality issues are a result of a growing population and its numerous valleys that allow polluted air to settle, the report said. The high number of sunny days in Southern California also boost ozone levels, the report said, adding that the state would be in worse shape were it not for strict auto emission regulations as well as limiting coal-fired power plants.

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The cities with the worst year-round particle air pollution were Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif., Bakersfield, Calif., Fresno-Madera, Calif., San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif., Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif., Modesto-Merced, Calif., El Centro, Calif., Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, Pa.-Ohio-W.Va., Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif.

Just six cities recorded no days of unhealthy levels of pollution: Burlington, Vt.; Honolulu; Wilmington, N.C.; Fort Myers / Naples, Fla.; Melbourne, Fla., and Elmira, N.Y.

The report said that year-round levels of air pollution have improved, but shorter term spikes of very polluted air have risen.

“Even with continued improvement, too many people in the United States live where the air is unhealthy for them to breathe,” the report said.

The report used data from states, cities, counties, tribes and federal agencies from 2013 to 2015. (VOA)

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Air Pollution Linked to 3.2 Million New Diabetes Cases in One Year

Nearly 10 million years of healthy life were lost in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes, representing about 14 per cent of all years of healthy life lost due to diabetes from any cause

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Air Pollution Linked to 3.2 Million New Diabetes Cases in One Year
Air Pollution Linked to 3.2 Million New Diabetes Cases in One Year. Pixabay

Outdoor air pollution even at levels deemed safe may be associated with an increased risk of diabetes globally, with India being at a greater risk due to lack of air cleaning policies, scientists said in a report in Lancet.

The findings showed that air pollution contributes to development of diabetes by reducing insulin production and triggering inflammation, which prevents the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs.

The overall risk of pollution-related diabetes is tilted more toward lower-income countries such as India that lack the resources for environmental mitigation systems and clean-air policies, Lancet Planetary Health report said.

“Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, from the University of Washington in St. Louis, US.

“We found an increased risk, even at low levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened,” Aly explained.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The researchers estimated that pollution contributed to a little more than three million new diabetes cases globally in 2016, which represented about 14 per cent of all new diabetes cases globally that year.

Nearly 10 million years of healthy life were lost in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes, representing about 14 per cent of all years of healthy life lost due to diabetes from any cause.

According to the UN 2018 Sustainable Development Goals Report, an estimated 4.2 million people died as a result of high levels of ambient air pollution.

Also Read: Eat Walnuts to Ward off Diabetes Risk

In the study, the team analysed data from more than one million participants without a history of diabetes, who were followed for a median of eight and a half years.

They also looked at particulate matters, airborne microscopic pieces of dust, dirt, smoke, soot and liquid droplets.

Poverty-stricken countries facing a higher diabetes-pollution risk include Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Guyana, while richer countries such as France, Finland and Iceland experience a lower risk, the study said. (IANS)