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



Air Pollution: South Carolina

South Carolina Air Pollution (2003-2015) see more
  • 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 (2003-2015) see more
  • Average exposure of the general public to particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in size (PM2.5).
Ranking Value State
1 5 Wyoming
2 5.2 North Dakota
3 5.7 Montana
4 6 Alaska
5 6.2 Vermont
6 6.3 South Dakota
7 6.6 New Mexico
8 6.7 Oregon
9 7 Colorado
10 7.2 Florida
10 7.2 Massachusetts
10 7.2 New Hampshire
13 7.4 Maine
14 7.6 Hawaii
15 7.8 Nebraska
15 7.8 Rhode Island
17 8 Minnesota
17 8 New York
17 8 Washington
20 8.3 Virginia
21 8.6 Kansas
21 8.6 Louisiana
23 8.7 North Carolina
24 8.8 Connecticut
24 8.8 Michigan
24 8.8 New Jersey
27 8.9 Mississippi
27 8.9 Utah
29 9 South Carolina
30 9.1 Tennessee
30 9.1 Wisconsin
32 9.3 Iowa
33 9.4 West Virginia
34 9.5 Alabama
34 9.5 Oklahoma
36 9.6 Maryland
37 9.7 Arizona
37 9.7 Arkansas
37 9.7 Delaware
37 9.7 Missouri
41 9.8 Georgia
42 9.9 Texas
43 10 Nevada
44 10.1 Kentucky
45 10.6 Ohio
46 11.1 Illinois
47 11.3 Indiana
48 11.4 Pennsylvania
49 11.7 Idaho
50 12.5 California


Explore the Data

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Core Measure Impact
Air Pollution
Related Measures
Air Pollution
Thematic Map
Air Pollution


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. 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 exposure data adjusts the information to reflect the number of people potentially exposed to particulates. In counties where exposure data is available, exposure is considered to be uniform throughout the county.  Where county 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 2015 ranks are based on 2012 to 2014 data from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Air pollution varies from a low of 5.0 micrograms of fine particulate per cubic meter in Wyoming to 12.5 micrograms of fine particulate per cubic meter in California. The national average is 9.5 micrograms of fine particulate per cubic meter, down slightly from 9.9 micrograms in the 2014 Edition and down significantly from 12.2 micrograms in the 2008 Edition.

Public Health Impact

Air pollution is an important aspect of the physical environment that impacts health. Air pollution is widespread, affects a large number of people, and can have severe health effects, especially on young children and older adults.[1],[2] Fine particulates in smoke or haze can penetrate deeply into lung tissue and have been shown to increase premature death in people suffering from heart disease and lung disease.[3],[4] Large particulates can cause eye, lung, and throat irritation.[5] Exposure has also been linked to increased respiratory symptoms, decreased lung function, asthma, chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks.[6] Asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases affecting 7.1 million children. Direct medical costs of asthma total $50.1 billion annually, while lost productivity adds $6.1 billion in costs.[7] Over the course of a lifetime 38.4 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma.[8] Estimates on the number of premature deaths resulting from combustion emissions are 200,000 annually.[9]

Air pollution has decreased in recent years, but in some areas pollution levels are still high. Individuals can reduce their contribution to air pollution by decreasing fossil fuel consumption and wood burning. Individuals can lower their risk of adverse health effects by monitoring air quality at Health and economic benefits of lower air pollution are clear in the EPA’s prospective study on the Clean Air Act. The EPA estimates that the Clear Air Act prevented 130,000 heart attacks, 1.7 million asthma attacks, and 13 million lost workdays between 1990 and 2010.[10]

Healthy People 2020’s leading health indicator for environmental health 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 III. 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] Centers for Disease Control. Air quality: particle pollution. Updated April 1, 2014. Accessed July 8, 2015.

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

[7] American Lung Association. 2014. Asthma & children factsheet. Accessed July 30, 2015.

[8] Centers for Disease Control. 2010. Asthma control: improving quality of life, and reducing deaths and costs. Accessed July 30, 2015.

[9] Caiazzo F, Ashok A, Waitz I, Yim S, Barrett S. Air pollution and early deaths in the united states. Part 1: quantifying the impact of major sectors in 2005. Atmospheric Environment. 2013;79:198-208.

[10] Environmental Protection Agency. Second prospective study-1990 to 2020. Updated August 2013. Accessed July 30, 2015.