By Natalie Wise
Breathing clean air is important for everyone, but those living in Ohio metro areas may have to work a bit harder to get clean air.
The American Lung Association released its State of the Air report and ranked the air quality of cities across the country. Six Ohio cities were on the list of the 25 Most Polluted Cities based on year-round particle pollution. The Cleveland-Akron-Elyria metro was No. 20 in the ranking.
Particle pollution can cause premature death, lung irritation and even potentially cancer. The pollution is generally the fine particles produced by mining, factories and manufacturing, power plants, burning of fossil fuels or wood in cars and fireplaces, construction and agriculture, all major industries in Ohio. Bacteria and mold can also create particle pollution.
To avoid breathing heavily polluted air while outside, track the air pollution levels using an online service such as that provided as a phone app by the American Lung Association, or by checking The Weather Channel. Try to avoid exercising in highly-trafficked areas and on high-pollution days.
Unfortunately, some of this polluted air will make it inside. How can homeowners ensure the indoor air quality is up to par? Proper home maintenance is key. Regularly replacing air filters is a helpful way to ensure they are performing properly. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests having all of the ducts in your home cleaned on a regular basis. The American Lung Association also suggests avoiding cigarette smoke, especially indoors, as well as reducing exposure to fireplace or woodstove smoke.
Homeowners should also be particularly careful when dealing with asbestos or lead paint in older homes. These materials become hazardous when disturbed and should be handled by professionals. A carbon monoxide detector is highly recommended, as is regularly testing for radon exposure in homes.
The rest of the top 10 most polluted list are: Bakersfield-Delano, Merced, Fresno-Madera, Hanford-Corcoran, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Modesto, and Visalia-Porterville, all in California, followed by Pittsburgh-New Castle, El Centro, Calif., and the Cincinnati metro. Other cities on the list of 25 cities include: Phoenix, Ariz., Bakersfield, Calif., and Fairbanks, Alaska.
Clean air is essential to health and it is well worth taking the extra precautions to ensure you can breathe well for years to come.