Every breath you take may be putting your health at risk.
Our region has racked up some failing grades on a new report card for air quality.
The American Lung Association's "State of the Air 2014" report measures three levels of air pollution across the United States. It uses data from 2010 to 2012, and in Berks County and the Lehigh Valley, things are getting worse.
It's a dangerous trend that could be dangerous to your health. The report finds people living in the region could be breathing in deadly pollutants.
"The levels did show an increase from already bad levels in last year's report," explained Kevin Stewart, the director of environmental health for the American Lung Association.
The annual report tracks ozone, or smog pollution, and year-round and short-term fine particle pollution. Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties received an "F" for high smog days. Northampton County failed for fine particle pollution.
"Ozone of course is something of a respiratory irritant and is formed not from smoke stacks and tailpipes but directly from pollutants that come out of those that go and react in the atmosphere," Stewart shared.
Very hot, sunny days also increase the levels of ozone and smog. The way the wind moves plays a part, too. Experts said these pollutants are powerful respiratory irritants that can affect your ability to breathe and cause other serious health problems. Stronger standards for pollutants have greatly reduced air quality hazards, but officials say more needs to be done.
"We actually have to do more to control the primary pollutants that go into that," said Stewart.
Experts told us cleaner gasoline and cleaner vehicle standards will drastically cut ozone and particle pollution.