Madison County Courier: Madison County Gets a "D" Rating

State of the Air Report Gives CNY Counties Passing Grades

Posted June 8, 2011

Madison County, NY – 2011) The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2011 report finds that air quality in Central New York is improving. Most counties experienced the same or slightly fewer unhealthy ozone days than they did in 2010.

Madison County had eight orange ozone days, the same as in 2010. The county again received a D in this year’s report.

Onondaga and Oswego counties earned a ‘D,’ while neighbors Oneida and Herkimer counties ranked a ‘C.’

With Oswego County improving its ozone grade from an F to a D in this year’s report, all Central New York counties with ozone monitors received passing grades. According to the report, more than nine million New Yorkers – nearly half of the state’s residents – live in counties where unhealthy air threatens their lives and health.

This year, 16 of the 34 counties in New York state with air quality monitors received failing grades. Nevertheless, the report shows that efforts underway to clean up air pollution are making a difference in Central New York and throughout the state.

State of the Air 2011, found at stateoftheair.org, grades counties based, in part, on the color-coded Air Quality Index developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help alert the public to daily unhealthy air conditions. The 12th annual release of the Lung Association’s report uses the most recent EPA data collected from 2007 through 2009 from official monitors for ozone and particle pollution, the two most widespread types of air pollution.

Counties are graded for ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution levels. The report also uses EPA’s calculations for year-round particle levels.

The American Lung Association identified the number of days that 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.

There are many ways New Yorkers can help clean the air and protect themselves. Check the news for daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts for your area. On days with elevated ozone or particle pollution, avoid exercising outdoors.

Help reduce pollution by driving less, reducing electricity use, and refraining from burning wood. New Yorkers can also join our Lung Action Network to contact decision-makers to voice their support for legislation that would make our air cleaner.

They can also support efforts to improve air quality by participating in one of the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air walks or climbs being held across the state this spring and fall.

Ozone, or smog-is the most widespread air pollutant. It is a gas formed most often when sunlight reacts with vapors emitted when motor vehicles, factories, power plants and other sources burn fuel. Breathing in ozone irritates the respiratory tract and causes health problems like asthma attacks, coughing, wheezing, chest pain and even premature death.

Particle pollution, called fine particulate matter or PM 2.5, is a deadly cocktail of ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols that can spike dangerously for hours to weeks on end.

The body’s natural defenses, coughing and sneezing, fail to keep these microscopic particles from burrowing deep within the lungs, triggering serious problems such as asthma and heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and even early death.