- MEASURE DETAIL
Air Pollution measures 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 three years. The ranks are based on the preceding three year’s data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Census Bureau.
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.- Fine particulates found in smoke or haze are able to penetrate deeply into lungs and have been shown to increase premature death in people suffering from heart disease and lung disease.- Exposure has also been linked to increased respiratory symptoms, decreased lung function, asthma, chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks. Current estimates put the number of deaths resulting from air pollution at around 24,000 annually. Other adverse effects on health from air pollution include decreased lung function, asthma aggravation, chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, and heart attacks. See www.epa.gov/air/particlepollution/health.html for more information. 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 also reduce their risk of adverse health effects by monitoring air quality at www.airnow.gov.
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 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.
 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.
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- The average exposure of the general public to particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in size (PM2.5).
The measures tracked by America's Health Rankings are those actions that can affect the future health of the population. For a state to improve the health of its population, efforts must focus on these measures, these determinants of health.
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