Elmira Star Gazette: Study: N.Y. air quality needs improvement


Chemung County's air quality grade dropped in the
latest study by the American Lung Association.

The study, called State of the Air 2010, finds that air
quality in much of Western New York needs

The report -- which assigns A-F grades to area
counties -- provides an annual national air quality
"report card," based on the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's color-coded Air Quality Index.

Chemung County's grade for ozone dropped from a
B to a C, as the county experienced three orange
ozone days in this report period, up from two in

The American Lung Association identified the
number of days each county with at least one air
quality monitor experienced air quality designated
as orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups), red
(unhealthy), or purple (very unhealthy), to determine
the grades.

Ozone, or smog, is the most widespread air

It is a gas formed most often when sunlight reacts
with vapors emitted when motor vehicles, factories,
power plants and other sources burn fuel,
according to a press release from the lung

Breathing in ozone irritates the respiratory tract and

causes health problems like asthma attacks,
coughing, wheezing, chest pain and even premature

Steuben County received a C for ozone pollution
this year with four orange ozone days.

In 2009, the county had insufficient data to receive
a grade. With three orange days for short-term
particle pollution, the county again earned a C.

No data was reported for Schuyler County or Tioga
County, N.Y.

According to the report, more than 12 million New
Yorkers -- more than 62 percent of the state's
residents -- live in counties where unhealthy air
threatens their lives and health.

This year, 19 of the 33 counties in New York state
with air quality monitors received failing grades,
including Monroe, Chautauqua, Wayne and Niagara