Breathe Easier About New Home: Do Some Environmental Research First

Phoenix may be a fine place to soak up some rays, just don't take a deep breath. According to the American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" report, the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. region currently suffers more year-round air pollution than anywhere in the United States. Bakersfield, Calif. and the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside areas trail close behind.

California also held the top spots for ozone pollution, claiming seven of the top 10 spots on the ALA's ozone pollution list. The effects on the health of those living in a high air-pollution spot can be devastating. The California Air Resources Board estimates that 18,000 Californians prematurely die from particle pollution each year and long-term exposure to air pollution can lead to lower lung function and to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The problem with studies like State of the Air is that it only measures air quality and gives no information on the comprehensive pollution content in a particular area. David Green, an environmental engineer for a Fortune 500 firm in Virginia, says that potential homebuyers trying to learn how clean a particular area is need to dig deeper.