Forty percent of the U.S. population, including residents of some of the largest port cities and inland distribution hubs, breathe air that threatens their health, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association.
The State of the Air 2012 report said most cities have made significant strides in reducing pollutants such as ozone (smog) and particulate matter. High levels of these pollutants result in heightened risk of respiratory and heart illnesses.
Use of diesel fuel in ocean vessels, cargo-handling equipment, trucks and locomotives contributes to higher levels of air pollution in port cities or distribution hubs.
The ports and inland distribution centers of Los Angeles-Long Beach, New York-New Jersey, Houston, Dallas and Atlanta were ranked among the 25 most polluted cities in terms of ozone.
The American Lung Association’s 13th annual report also stated, however, that the standards set by the 1970 federal Clean Air Act are working and have resulted in significant reductions in ozone and particulate matter pollution.
Los Angeles-Long Beach, for example, recorded its lowest smog and particulate matter levels since the report was first published in 2000.
In addition to local, state and federal regulatory efforts, Los Angeles and Long Beach have generated significant reductions in port pollution under their joint Clean Air Action Plan. The CAAP has reduced overall port pollution 45 percent and truck pollution more than 80 percent since it was adopted in 2006. http://www.joc.com/portsterminals/how-californias-ports-cleared-air
Most of the top container ports in the country have adopted clean-air plans to reduce diesel emissions from trucks. All ports will take a major step forward in August in reducing vessel pollution when the North American Emissions Control Area under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization requires that vessels burn low-sulfur fuel within 200 miles of the coast.
The American Lung Association urged continued support for the federal Clean Air Act, stating that 127 million Americans still live in regions with unhealthy air. “The Clean Air Act has improved our air, and health, for more than 40 years, but big polluters and some members of Congress are now proposing changes to the law that would weaken these safeguards,” the association stated.