Kingston Daily Freeman: Among local counties, only Ulster gets passing grade for air

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

By Mid-Hudson News Network

THE American Lung Association’s State of the Air report released Wednesday shows no signs of improvement in the quality of Hudson Valley air.

The latest statistics for ozone and particle pollution remain largely unchanged from last year, with only on county — Ulster — receiving a passing grade.

Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties all failed.

Dutchess earned an earned an F for ozone pollution, with 15 days rated orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups), one more day than in 2010. Dutchess was one of only two counties in the state whose number of high ozone days when compared to last year.

Ulster County earned a C, the same grade as last year, and reduced its number of orange ozone days from six to three.

Orange County got an F for ozone with 11 orange and three days rated red (unhealthy). That’s a slight improvement over last year, when the county had 16 orange and three red ozone pollution days. Orange County received a C for short-term particle pollution, the same as in 2010, though the county experienced one fewer high-particle day.

The lead author in the national State of the Air report, Janice Nolen, said she has concerns about the possible watering down of the federal Clean Air Act.

“The American Lung Association is working hard to fight to make sure that we take steps to clean up even more air pollution,” she said. “We are calling for EPA to clean up some of the biggest sources remaining, including coal-fired power plants, existing diesel engines like trucks, buses, tractors and heavy equipment, to be able to provide the funding for cleaning up those additional resources.”