Report:

Trouble in the Air

Millions of Americans breathed polluted air in 2020
Released by: Environment California Research and Policy Center

Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers safe and acceptable levels of air pollution 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.2 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

Millions of Americans across the country experienced elevated levels of air pollution in 2020

• More than one in six Americans – 58.4 million – living in 53 large and small urban areas and rural counties experienced over 100 days of air pollution at levels above what the EPA considers “good” during 2020.3

• 179.2 million additional Americans – or more than half the country – living in 257 large and small urban areas and rural counties experienced between 31 and 100 days of elevated air pollution.4

• The 237.6 million people that experienced more than a month of elevated air pollution represents over 70% of the U.S. population.5 Figure ES-1. Both urban and rural areas experienced frequent elevated air pollution levels in 2020 3 Trouble In The Air Ozone pollution

• 13.6 million Americans living in 11 large and small urban areas and rural counties experienced over 100 days of ozone pollution at levels above what the EPA considers “good” in 2020.

• An additional 57.3 million Americans living in 90 large and small urban areas and rural counties experienced between 31 and 100 days of elevated ozone pollution. Particulate pollution

• 30.7 million Americans living in 26 large and small urban areas and rural counties experienced over 100 days of particulate pollution at levels above what the EPA considers “good.”

• An additional 175.4 million Americans living in 194 large and small urban areas and rural counties experienced between 31 and 100 days of elevated particulate pollution.