Take a deep breath. We've got some not-so-great news. Or wait — on second thought, maybe don't.
About 44% — yes, almost half — of Americans are living in places with air that's dangerous to breathe, a new study by the American Lung Association has found.
Fortunately, though, the group's 16th annual "State of the Air 2015" report, released yesterday, showed that most of the nation has much cleaner air than it did even a decade ago. And the eastern part of the country has made the most progress (Woo! Go us!).
The ALA ranks cities based on their levels of the two most common and harmful types of air pollution: ozone (smog) and particle pollution (soot).
California — with its warm climate, hilly landscape, oil refineries, manufacturing plants, wildfires, agricultural equipment, and transportation vehicles — dominates the list, and the drought is only making matters worse.
While it's definitely cause for celebration that we've cleaned up our act (if only slightly), thanks to the transition to cleaner diesel fuel and steps taken to clean up power plants, we clearly still have a lot more work to do. Not only is pollution hurting our planet, it's also damaging our hearts and lungs. High levels of pollution can cause severe asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, and, as the World Health Organization recently concluded, lung cancer.
With that said, here are the top 10 most ozone-polluted cities: