(WTRF) – You breathe in, you breathe out, it’s a regular reflex. We breathe without even thinking, but are you thinking about what’s going into your lungs when you do?

The American Heart Association released its annual “State of the Air” report detailing where what we breathe is the best. 

40% of the U.S. population lives in an area with at least one grade of F. 

Kevin Stewart, Director of Environmental Health, American Lung Association

Nine million more Americans were impacted by areas of deadly particle pollution this year. 

The American Lung Association looks at both short and long term measurements of particles in the air and ozone pollution. 

Where we see problems nationwide has been with as a consequence of air temperatures and drought. Where wildfires have caused lots and lots of fine particles to go into the air.

Kevin Stewart, Director of Environmental Health, American Lung Association

Stewart explained that there are still some places across the country where people are living close to industrial sources and the air is worse. However, he also added there have been significant improvements over the years.

The biggest issue, he said, is caused by pollutants from facilities that have not been controlled or regulated.

So how does the Ohio Valley rank? 

The Wheeling area, for its daily measure of fine particle pollution has its fourth A in a row. That’s great news. 

Kevin Stewart, Director of Environmental Health, American Lung Association

The Friendly City also got a “B” for ozone pollution. In fact, it’s one of the cleanest cities for short-term particle pollution. 

A couple counties also made good grades when it comes to the air. 

Hancock, Marshall, Ohio and Jefferson Counties made the “best of list” in the report. 

In fairness to counties who you may think were left off the list, Stewart said some counties don’t have enough data to report.

Across West Virginia Stewart also highlighted a few other cities.

Charleston got a “B” for ozone, which is the same as last year. For the fourth year in a row the city also got an “A” for fine particle measure.

Parkersburg received a “C” in the ozone category, but an “A” for daily fine particle measure.

And Morgantown makes “A” grades for ozone and fine particle measure.

Regionally the City of Pittsburgh has some of the worst ratings. The American Lung Association’s measurement of Pittsburgh also includes part of West Virginia and Ohio because of proximity. However, Stewart explained that the Steel City is slowly improving and got a passing grade in daily particle pollution for the first time.

However, the problems there aren’t unique to just this area. 

High levels of ozone, it’s a powerful respiratory irritant. It can cause people who have asthma to have asthma attacks that might send someone home from work, but also might send your children to the emergency room.

Kevin Stewart, Director of Environmental Health, American Lung Association

Stewart said many cities and areas are making strides when it comes to air pollution, but still an unacceptable number of Americans are living in areas with poor air quality. 

Red for unhealthy for everyone, but then there’s purple days for the very unhealthy and the maroon for the very hazardous days and we’ve seen more purple and maroon days than we ever have before in our report.

Kevin Stewart, Director of Environmental Health, American Lung Association

So, is there anything that we can do to improve the air quality around us?

Stewart said yes.

He advised to not burn open trash, keep your car in good shape and carpool if you can to reduce admissions. Stewart also advocated for safer agricultural practices. Conserving power can be another way to help the air. If you use less in your home by turning off unnecessary lights and controlling the thermostat, it saves money for you and produces less pollution from the power plants.

To read the American Lung Association’s full report, click here.