Orange County air quality slips slightly, according to American Lung Association study

Posted April 21, 2017

Nolen explained the Clean Air Act of 1963 addresses the problem by mandating states recognize their own pollution may impact air quality elsewhere.

Short-term spikes in particle pollution can be extremely unsafe and even lethal.

The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution.

The report ranked Houston as the 12th worst for ozone pollution out of 228 metropolitan areas, the 16th worst city for year-round particle pollution out of 186 metropolitan areas and the 49th worst for 24-hour particle pollution. It has been well documented that the primary source of fine particle pollution during the summer and fall seasons is in fact smoke from wildfires. Exposure can be particularly unsafe for "at-risk groups" like the young and elderly as well as those whose health is already complicated by respiratory, cardiac or other ailments.

All Connecticut counties graded in the report received a passing grade for particle pollution.

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Elsewhere in the state, Cincinnati and Columbus had those cities' best-ever report, reaching their fewest high ozone and particle pollution days and lowest year-round particle levels.

Lisa Fasano, spokeswoman with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, said the problem is that many areas are not served by natural gas, including parts of the San Geronimo Valley.

Santa Cruz County fared well in an air quality report released Wednesday, which state officials say is a testament to California's stringent environmental laws.

"That is why we are calling on President Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and members of Congress to fully fund, implement, and enforce the Clean Air Act", she said. "We must also clean up wood-burning devices and ensure there is adequate funding for states to monitor air pollution".

Breathing in the microscopic particles can trigger asthma attacks, increase risks of heart attacks and strokes, cause lung cancer and lead to premature death, the report said. According to the 2017 report, Hartford and Litchfield counties had the fewest days when short-term particle pollution has reached unhealthy levels in 2013-2015, compared to other CT counties.

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The 2017 report found that fewer people suffered from unhealthy ozone pollution than in the 2016 report, although 116.5 million lived in counties that have too much pollution.

The five cities with the highest year-round particle pollution levels are all in California: Bakersfield; Visalia-Porterville-Hanford; Fresno-Madera; San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland; and Los Angeles-Long Beach.

The improvements in the region's air quality is noteworthy when viewed over the past 16 years. President Donald Trump has proposed cuts to federal climate science funding and has deregulated industries that are a major source of unsafe emissions.

The air in the Tri-Cities has never been cleaner, according to the newest "State of the Air" report from the American Lung Association.

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