How’s the Air Out There?

Annual Report Shows Cities with Cleanest and Most Polluted Air

(April 25, 2012)

We all have to share the air we breathe– and the air out there eventually becomes the air in you. That’s why knowing your area’s air quality is important.  The just-released thirteenth annual State of the Air report finds both big improvements and continuing threats. When you check it out, you’ll learn that where you live has a big impact on whether the air you breathe is healthy or hazardous.

State of the Air 2012 takes a close look at air quality across the country and ranks cities and counties for two of the most widespread types of air pollution - ozone (smog) and particle pollution (soot). Is your city on America’s most polluted list?

Steady Progress

This year’s report found that air quality is the best we’ve seen in the majority of American cities that are most-polluted by ozone or year-round particle pollution. Although they still have unhealthy air quality, they show continued progress in the cleanup of ozone smog and particle pollution.  This steady progress toward more healthy air proves that the Clean Air Act is working.

State of the Air 2012 highlights several areas in the Northeast region:

  • The New York-Newark-Bridgeport metro area ranked 15th most polluted in the nation.
  • Fairfield County, CT ranked 24th on the list of 25 most polluted counties in the nation for ozone, making it the dirtiest county in the region.
  • Suffolk County, NY dropped from an A to a B for particle pollution, making it the only county in New York State to drop a grade for either pollutant.
  • The New York City metro area ranked 15th on the list of 25 cities most polluted by ozone but dropped off the list of 25 most polluted cities for particle pollution.
  • Burlington-South Burlington, VT made the list of cleanest cities for short-term particle pollution and ranked 20th on the list of the top 25 cleanest cities for annual particle pollution.
  • Claremont-Lebanon (NH-VT) made the list of cleanest cities for short-term particle pollution and ranked 14th on the list of 25 cleanest counties for annual particle pollution.
  • Belknap, Hillsborough, and Grafton Counties, NH made the list of cleanest counties for short-term particle pollution with Belknap County tying for 17th on the list of the 25 cleanest counties for annual particle pollution.
  • Hancock County, ME made the list of cleanest counties for short-term particle pollution and tied for 4th on the top 25 cleanest counties for annual particle pollution.
  • Bangor, ME made the list of cleanest cities for short-term particle pollution and was ranked 21st among the top 25 cleanest cities for annual particle pollution.
  • Oxford, Sagadahoc, and Arastook Counties, ME all made the nationwide list of cleanest counties for ozone pollution.
  • Piscataquis County, ME ranked 14th on the list of 25 cleanest counties for annual particle pollution.

“These improvements in air quality are to be applauded because cleaner air saves lives,” said Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in the Northeast. “But make no mistake, air pollution in our communities continues to be a major threat that cuts lives short, routinely sends people to the hospital and makes it hard to breathe.   We not only need to defend the protections in the Clean Air Act that are responsible for the  progress we’ve made, we need to fight for tighter standards that will ensure further progress and will lead to improved lung health and more lives saved.”

Threats Continue

Despite these improvements, in some areas the air quality actually worsened and more than 40 percent of people in the U.S. still live in areas where air pollution threatens their health.  The Clean Air Act has improved our air – and health – for more than 40 years.  But big polluters and some members of Congress are now proposing changes to the law that would weaken these safeguards.  Efforts to weaken this vital public health law pose real threats to our nation - especially the 127 million people who still live in areas with levels of ozone and/or particle pollution that are often dangerous to breathe.

You Can Help

Want to help protect the air we all share?  Here’s what you can do:

  • Tell Congress about how important healthy air is for you.   Click here to send a message to Congress about protecting the Clean Air Act. Share your story about why healthy air matters to you and your family.
  • Take steps to clean up the air in your community and to protect your family: drive less; walk, bike, carpool or take transit. Don’t burn wood or trash. Make sure your local school system uses clean school buses. Use less electricity. Don’t’ exercise on high pollution days and never exercise near busy freeways.
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for much more information about lung health.
  • Make a financial contribution to the American Lung Association of the Northeast to support our fight for clean and healthy air at lungne.org.

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