BALTIMORE (WJZ)—New rankings show Maryland remains among the nation’s top 20 power plant polluters.

But Monique Griego explains our air is gradually improving.

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While Maryland is still considered one of the most toxic states in the nation, there has been some progress. This year we actually rank better than we did last year.

Pollution from power plants once again has Maryland named as one of the most toxic states in the nation.

“I’m not surprised,” one man said. “I mean the air quality is really, really bad.”

“There are smoke stacks right by my house, and they’re always billowing so it doesn’t surprise me very much,” said Lindsey Farris, of Anne Arundel County.

The latest Toxic 20 report by the National Resources Defense Council shows Maryland ranks19th when it comes to the most pollution caused by coal -fired power plants.

“Coal has mercury and a whole range of toxic elements embedded in coal that is released,” said Peter Altman from the NRDC, who spoke with us by Skype.

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Altman says the current ranking is actually an improvement.

This year at number 19 we just made the top 20. In 2011 we ranked number five.

So, in one year Maryland decreased it’s toxic pollution by 88 percent.

Altman says much of the drop is due to the state passing the Healthy Air Act, “which had the effect of setting limits for toxic mercury pollution in the state,” he said. “It’s been tremendously successful.”

Altman says public outcry and new legislation are forcing plants to install more pollution controls.

And while Maryland is an example of how tougher standards can dramatically improve air quality, there is still a lot of air to clear.

“I think they need to continue to do that, so we cannot be on the list at all,” Farris said.

When it came to the states with the worst pollution, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania were the top three.

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In 2015, the EPA will begin enforcing new air quality standards, which are expected to dramatically decrease the amount of pollution nationwide.