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US air pollution hits 10-year low, report finds

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The trend toward cleaner air continued even as the economy began rebounding in 2008 following the recession, giving rise to higher energy use and more miles driven, the report says.

“We know now it’s possible to have both,” says ALA Assistant Vice President Janice Nolen. “In spite of economic growth, we’ve been able to reduce pollution, and that means that these are permanent, real changes that have allowed us to have cleaner air.”

All but three of the 25 cities with the most year-round particle pollution improved since last year’s report.

Meanwhile, Santa Fe, N.M.; Bismarck, N.D.; Duluth, Minn.; Honolulu; and Vero Beach, Fla., ranked as the cleanest cities in the country. 

The EPA estimated in 2010 improvements brought on by the Clean Air Act since 1990 have saved the lives of 160,000 people. The New England Journal of Medicine reported in January 2009 that cleaner air has added nearly five months to the average US life expectancy.

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