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The average exposure of the general public to particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in size (PM2.5).

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Air Pollution: South Carolina

South Carolina Air Pollution (2003-2013) see more
  • The average exposure of the general public to particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in size (PM2.5).

Air Pollution

United States Air Pollution (2003-2013) see more
  • The average exposure of the general public to particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in size (PM2.5).

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Overview

Air Pollution is the fine particulates in the air we breathe. It is the population-weighted average exposure to particulates 2.5 micron and smaller for each county reporting within a state. Air pollution is monitored in many counties where population density is significant and/or where there have been pollution concerns in prior years. Population weighting of the county data adjusts the information to reflect the actual number of people potentially exposed to particulates. In counties where pollution data is not available, the population was assumed to be exposed to the background level of particulates in the air quality control region and/or state. Background levels are estimated to be the average of the lowest measures in each region or state for each of the last 3 years. The 2013 ranks are based on 2010 to 2012 data from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Air pollution is an important aspect of the physical environment that has an impact on health. Air pollution is widespread, affects a large number of people, and can have very severe health effects. Young children and older adults are especially at risk of adverse effects from air pollution.[1] [2] Fine particulates found in smoke or haze can penetrate deeply into lungs and have been shown to increase premature death in people suffering from heart disease and lung disease.[3] [4] Exposure has also been linked to increased respiratory symptoms, decreased lung function, asthma, chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks.[5] Current estimates put the number of deaths resulting from air pollution at around 24,000 annually.[6] The EPA has additional information on particulate matter. The extent of air pollution has decreased in recent years, but in some areas pollution levels are still quite high. Individuals can reduce their contributions to air pollution by reducing fossil fuel consumption and wood burning. Individuals can monitor their risk for adverse health effects caused by poor air quality at AirNow.

Air pollution varies from a low of less than 6.0 micrograms of fine particulate per cubic meter in Wyoming, Alaska, and North Dakota to 15.1 micrograms of fine particulate per cubic meter in California. The national average is 10.3 micrograms of fine particulate per cubic meter, down slightly from 10.5 micrograms in the 2012 Edition and down significantly from 12.2 micrograms in the 2008 Edition.

Healthy People 2020’s environmental health leading health indicator is to reduce the number of days the Air Quality Index (AQI) exceeds 100, weighted by population and AQI.



[1] Bates DV. The effects of air pollution on children. Environ Health Perspect. 1995;103:49-53.

[2] Sarnat SE. Ambient particulate air pollution and cardiac arrhythmia in a panel of older adults in Steubenville, Ohio. Occup Environ Med. 2006;63(10):700.

[3] Pope CA 3rd. Epidemiology of fine particulate air pollution and human health: Biologic mechanisms and who's at risk? Environ Health Perspect. 2000;108:713-23.

[4] Dominici F. Revised analyses of the national morbidity, mortality, and air pollution study: Mortality among residents of 90 cities. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part A. 2005;68(13-14):1071.

[5] Peters A. Increased particulate air pollution and the triggering of myocardial infarction. Circulation. 2001;103(23):2810.

[6] Mokdad AH. Actual causes of death in the United States, 2000. JAMA. 2004;291(10):1238.