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Take a breath of fresh air, America, because the air is fine. NASA satellites are showing marked improvements in air quality nationwide, as compared to last year. The crazy thing is, there are more cars on the road now than there were last year. The current success is being linked to stricter regulations on power plants and technological innovations.

NASA reviewed their data and discovered a significant drop in nitrogen dioxide in U.S. cities. HNGN says Prolonged exposure to nitrogen dioxide can cause all sorts of respiratory problems, including bronchitis, flu, and the common cold. NO2 is impossible to avoid in today’s society, but can be inhaled in safe amounts if limited to .053 parts per million. The West coast did pretty well in limiting exposure, while the Midwest and East coast had some of the highest numbers on the map.

That being said, places like New York managed to reduce emissions by 32 percent. Impressive numbers, sure, but the Big Apple is still in the red in terms of pollution. Atlanta, with the use of technology and strict regulations, was able to reduce its total emissions by 42 percent! Almost half is indeed commendable when areas like the Midwest have made little or no effort to reduce their emissions.

The data presented by NASA is not current. The maps compared were from satellite images taken in 2005-2007 and 2009-2011. This was likely done as recent years' data is often harder to collect and appears inaccurate until all information is known.NASA says they are pleased with the data, but much work remains to be done.

We really should thank institutions like NASA for educating our representatives and pushing them to make more regulations on air quality. Although we may not notice it immediately, air quality has a great effect on the human body over a long span of time. Air pollution can not only affect the lungs, but also the heart. Without some regulation, life would be terrible for those with asthma or heart and lung diseases. Chances are, you know someone with one of those three, so be happy NASA is looking out for them!