As people move out of the inner cities and small towns,
reliance on the automobile has increased dramatically. While people
flee for more open space, they leave behind the conveniences of small
town life and commit to having to use their cars to do just about every
thing. In suburbs, people live farther away from their jobs, schools,
and shopping than ever before. This increased dependence on automobiles
has created a major air pollution problem.
Since the 1970's, air quality standards have been developed to decrease
the amount of harmful emissions released from each individual car. However,
with increasing numbers of people living farther away from work, school,
etc., the number of miles driven per person has increased. More miles
driven on the roads, means more overall air pollution being placed in
the atmosphere from automobile emissions.
The issue is specifically pertinent for people with
asthma. In the Lehigh Valley there are between 34-35 thousand people
who suffer from asmtha. Poor air quality is an environmental factor
that can exacerbate the effects of asmtha.
The American Lung Association conducts an annual State of the Air
Assessment of the air quality for each county. Each county receives
an air quality grade from 'A' to 'F' based on how their air pollution
levels are rated on the EPA air quality index for ground level ozone.
Lehigh and Northampton counties, located in the Lehigh Valley, both
received an 'F' in 2001. There were a total of 24 counties that received
an 'F' in Pennsylvania and over 9 million people live in these counties.
Pennsylvania is the fourth worst ranked state in the nation for ground
level ozone behind California, New York, and Texas - these are some
of the most densely populated states in the USA.