LOS ANGELES (CBS) - On a typical day in Los Angeles, the pollution is visible in the air.
"You look over and see the smog blanketing the city and you realize it's really disgusting."
But the American Lung Association's new State of the Air report finds air quality has actually improved in LA and in the most polluted cities in the nation. In fact, the air is the cleanest since the report began 13 years ago.
Dr. Kristie Ross with UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital says, "We have definitely made a lot of progress since the Clean Air Act was enacted in the 70s. That's very encouraging but as the report today highlights we have a long way to go."
The report shows more than 127 million people are living in places with dangerous levels of pollution that can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature death.
Even though pollution levels are better in Los Angeles, it still is the most polluted city in the country and many other areas across California top the list for poor air quality.
Pollution can be especially harmful for children, the elderly and people with asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Experts say it's a good idea for them to limit outdoor activities when pollution levels are high.
Ross says, "These chemicals cause excessive inflammation and oxidative stress that can affect a lot of different parts of the body, including the lungs, the heart, control of breathing."
Many in LA agree, the air quality has improved over the decades.
"I think it's certainly better than when we were growing up in the 70s."
Santa Fe, New Mexico is ranked as the cleanest city in the country.
Source: Teresa Garcia/CBS News