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Harrisburg-metro ranks among ‘top 25 worst U.S. cities’ for air pollution

HARRISBURG, Pa. - More than 150 pages detail air pollution in cities across the United States in the American Lung Association 19th's annual 'State of the Air' report. The report ranks the Harrisburg-York-Lebanon metro area among the top 25 worst cities for pollution.

"The area showed some improvements and we were happy to see that that those improvements occurred," said Kevin Stewart, American Lung Association, director of environmental health for the Mid-Atlantic region. "The unfortunate thing is we're still one of the worst metro areas in the country."

In a tire with the Houston, Texas and Birmingham, Alabama metro area, the Harrisburg-metro comes in at #15 on the list for cities most polluted by year round particles and ranks #22 on the short-term particle pollution list.

"This are very, very tiny particles smaller than a diameter of human hair," said Stewart. "So they can get in the deepest parts of the lungs and sometimes even get into the blood stream."

Particle pollution is also know as soot pollution. It can come from dust, fly ash, soot, smoke, aerosols, fumes, mists and condensing vapors. The American Lung Association says this type of pollution can cause dangerous health risks, especially for people already considered "at-risk."

"If you have asthma, you might have an asthma attack," said Stewart. "You might need more medication and then on the serious end of the spectrum you might need to go the hospital or emergency room."

For people worried about increasing air pollution, experts say there are things people can do on an everyday basis to help increase air quality; driving less, using public transportation and using less electricity.

For more information on the American Lung Association's 'State of the Air' reporter, click here.