D.C., Baltimore tie for No. 3 spot in smoggiest large metro areas

Washington, D.C.-Md.-Va. and Baltimore, Md. tied for the No. 3 spot on the smoggiest large metropolitan areas in 2010, according to an Environment America report.

Riverside-San Bernardino, Ca. suffered the worst smog pollution in
2010 by far, with 41 more smog days than the area in second place: Los Angeles-Long Beach, Ca. Philadelphia, Pa.-N.J. was ranked No. 5.

The study defined large metro areas as having a population above one million people.

The environmental advocacy group released the report as the U.S. House of Representatives considered a bill (H.R. 2401) that would roll back Clean Air Act protections for smog.

Studies show that on days with high concentrations of smog pollution in the air, children and adults suffer more asthma attacks, increased respiratory difficulty, and reduced lung function, the group said.

The report also listed Washington, D.C.-Md.-Va. and Baltimore, Md. tied at sixth place in the top smoggiest areas in the U.S. for 2010.

So far this year, national rankings of the smoggiest metropolitan areas across the country through August 21 are: The areas of Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Ca.; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Gainesville, GA-AL; Fresno-Madera, Ca.; Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, DC-MD-VA-WV; and New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA.

The report recommends the Environmental Protection Agency set a National Ambient Air Quality Standard within the range of 60-70 parts per billion over eight hours, as recommended by the independent board of air experts created under the Clean Air Act.

It also suggests cleaner and more efficient vehicles should be developed, public transit systems should be expanded and improved, and state and federal governments should speed up the transition away from fossil fuels.

Read the full report here: Danger in the Air: Unhealthy Air Days in 2010 and 2011.