US Air10 Times
More Polluted
Than In 1900
WASHINGTON, Dec 13 (AFP) - Americans are now breathing air that is 10 times dirtier than it was in 1900 but the death rate since then has been halved, the US Census Bureau reported Monday.
As the US population expanded from 76 million 100 years ago to 270 million, the number of gasoline-powered vehicles rose from 8,000 to 208 million in 1997.
Emissions of nitrogen dioxide soared from 2.6 million tonnes to 23.6 million tonnes.
But in the last century, according to the Census Bureau, life expectancy for men went from 46 to 74 and for women from 48 to 79. The death rate fell from 17.2 per 1,000 to 8.6 in 1997.
These and other changes were recorded in a statistical abstract published by the bureau on Monday.
"To date, the 20th century has to be the most dynamic in our history, and these statistics paint a picture of rapid and massive change," said Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt.
Elsewhere, the the bureau found:
-- In 1900, 60 percent of the population lived in rural areas. In 1990, only 25 percent lived in the countryside.
-- The number of foreign-born residents increased from 10.3 million in 1900 to 25.8 million in 1997.
-- In 1900, 11.0 percent of all 14-to-17-year-olds were in secondary education classes, compared with 93 percent in 1997.
-- In 1900, some 28,700 people earned bachelor degrees from US colleges and universities. That figure had risen to 1.2 million in 1997.
-- The first powered airplane flight carried two passengers in 1903, when Orville and Wilbur Wright flew 120 feet in 12 seconds. In 1998 US commercial airliners carried 614 million passengers.
-- There were 36 highway fatalities in 1900 and 41,967 in 1997.
-- In 1920, the first time such data was available, 35 percent of US homes had telephone service, compared to 94 percent in 1997.
-- The US government took in 567 million dollars in receipts in 1990 and 1.7 trillion dollars in 1999.
-- National defense spending came to 300 million dollars in 1900 and 307 billion in 1998.
-- With one dollar (in terms of 1982-1984 dollars) in 1913, a US consumer could buy 10.08 dollars' worth of goods compared with 60 cents' worth in 1998.
-- In 1900, there were 5.7 million farms covering 841 million acres (340 million hectares). In 1998 there were 2.2 million farms in the United States covering 954 million acres (386 million hectares).

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