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Health: State Of The Air

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The American Lung Association is out with its annual State of the Air report, and our area is among the 10 most polluted.

Our air is cleaner than it's been in years, but still among some of the most polluted in the country. Bad air can cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature death.

The Philadelphia region, a designation that includes parts of South Jersey and Delaware, ranked the 10th worst in the country for year-round particle pollution or soot.

For ozone, or smog, our rating worsened, going from 20th to the 16th worst in the country. But the American Lung Association's new State of the Air report says our air is better than it's been in over a decade.

"We have definitely made a lot of progress since the Clean Air Act was enacted in the 70s, that's very encouraging. But as the report today highlights, we have a long way to go," said Dr. Kristie Ross, a pulmonologist.

The report says that more than 127 million people around the country are living in places with dangerous levels of pollution, caused mainly by chemicals and emissions.

Doctors say pollution can be especially harmful for children, the elderly and people with asthma, heart disease and diabetes.

"These chemicals cause excessive inflammation and oxidative stress that can affect a lot of different parts of the body, including the lungs, the heart, control of breathing," said Dr. Ross.

In addition to Philadelphia, areas around Houston, Phoenix, and Pittsburgh also had some of the worst pollution.

Santa Fe, New Mexico is ranked as the cleanest city in the country.

For more on the State of the Air, click here.

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