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Hold your breath: Phoenix ranked among most polluted cities in the nation

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Phoenix has been ranked among the most polluted cities in the nation, according to a recent report from the American Lung Association.

The association’s 2016 “State of the Air” report found that the Valley of the Sun ranked No. 5 for most polluted city nationwide for ozone, decreasing only slightly from levels recorded in 2015.

In a press release, Julie Reid with the association’s Arizona chapter said the city’s ozone levels put residents at risk for serious health problems, such as premature death, asthma attacks and cardiovascular harm.

“Since we have such high levels of year-round particle pollution, our citizens face increased risk for lung cancer,” she said in the release. “Across the nation, the report found continued improvement in air quality, but more than half of the people in the United States live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution.”

Reid said high ozone levels are harmful to the public, especially kids, older adults and asthma sufferers.

“When older adults or children with asthma breathe ozone-polluted air, too often they end up in the doctor’s office, the hospital or the emergency room,” she said in the release.

Not all of the report’s findings were negative, however. Phoenix was also found to have slightly lower year-round particle pollution levels from 2012 to 2014.

Particle pollution levels can be lethal, lodging deep in the lungs and triggering asthma attacks, heart attacks or even strokes, the release said.

Increased levels of particle pollution in Phoenix can be attributed to the heat, weather changes, drought and wildfires — all of which Arizona is well-known for.

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