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Millions Breathe Dirty Air as Climate Change Makes Air Quality Worse

Millions Breathe Dirty Air as Climate Change Makes Air Quality Worse

People of color are 3x more likely to live in the most polluted counties

During a congressional hearing last week with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), one of the most zealous supporters of former president Donald Trump, sought to frame COVID-19 health measures as a matter of big government versus individual freedom. As new strains of the deadly respiratory disease continue to circulate the globe, Jordan blasted Fauci for taking away our freedom to breathe without a mask on.

“Are we just going to continue this forever? When do we get to the point, what measure, what standard, what objective outcome do we have to reach before Americans get their liberties and freedom back?” Jordan said.

“You’re indicating liberty and freedom,” Fauci, the White House's chief medical adviser, replied. “I look at it as a public health measure to prevent people from dying and going to the hospital.”

Among the liberties of which Jordan purported to be a champion, he never mentioned the freedom to breathe clean air. He might want to take up the cause: According to the American Lung Association’s latest State of the Air report, that freedom is increasingly being taken away from millions of Americans nationwide, in particular people of color—and not by Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Global warming is amplifying a public health emergency that is playing out in the very air we breathe. According to the new report, more than four in 10 people in the United States, or 135 million—approximately the same amount of people who have now received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine—are breathing polluted air, leading to a broad spectrum of health impacts from which more are dying and going to the hospital. And the situation is getting worse as the planet gets hotter.

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