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Where Omaha ranks in most polluted cities in the US

Where Omaha ranks in most polluted cities in the US
Posted at 6:39 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 19:41:31-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Four in 10 Americans are living in unhealthy air, according to the American Lung Association. The Association in Nebraska says this report indicates we're heading in the wrong direction when it comes to our health.

So where does Omaha rank on the list, and why?

Julia McCarville is the executive director of the American Lung Association in Nebraska. She says vehicles aren't the only thing affecting the climate.

"Cars driving on Interstate 80 and the hotter the weather, the more climate change is affected," McCarville said.

Omaha isn't as bad as the smog-choked city of Los Angeles -- which topped the list for the 19th time in the last 20 years -- but we don't live in the cleanest city either, according to the Lung Association. The report hones in on two widespread air pollutants, the ozone pollution and particle pollution.

"Ozone is a gas molecule, we often call it smog," McCarville said. "Particle pollution are solid and liquid molecules in the air."

Omaha ranked 147th out of 228 cities for most polluted ozone. We then ranked 64th for most particle pollution out of 201 cities. The Lung Association says it's slightly worse than where we were last year. Bad air quality days can mean danger to people and patients with lung cancer or lung disease.

Dr. Nikhil Jegan is a pulmonologist at Burgan Mercy, studying how matter can affect our lungs. He says particle matter affecting humans also comes from diesel emissions, construction and fires. He's seen patients who have been affected by the climate.

"We see a lot of patients with asthma and chronic obstructive disease," Dr. Jegan said. "Exposure to pollution is a trigger factor to these diseases apart from the usual viruses and bacteria."

As we go about our day, the Lung Association is looking to stop the trend happening in cities like Omaha -- climate conditions that are worsening. People with the Association like McCarville are trying to stop the trend.

"We are calling for the Administration and Congress to adopt science-based solutions to reduce emissions that cause climate change," McCarville said.

The American Lung Association has an online petition urging government bodies to reduce pollution.

Track air quality in Omaha at