Trouble in the Air
Millions of Americans breathed polluted air in 2020
Despite much progress in reducing levels of air pollution in the U.S., millions of Americans are exposed to unhealthy levels of pollution every year.
NJPIRG Law and Policy Center
Despite much progress in reducing levels of air pollution in the U.S., millions of Americans are exposed to unhealthy levels of pollution every year.1 Ozone and small particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), among other pollutants, are widespread in the U.S. and have serious health effects.
Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers safe and acceptable levels of air pol- lution that many American public health groups and international agencies consider unhealthy. This report examines EPA air quality data from 2020 and shows how often Americans living in large urban areas, small urban areas and rural counties were exposed to air pollution that could damage their health.
Fossil fuel combustion is the primary human-caused source of air pollution – and the main driver of global warming, which threatens to make air quality even worse in the years to come. Policymakers must move quickly to reduce air pollution, including by electrifying every sector of the economy and transitioning to clean, renewable sources of electricity.