Mid Hudson News Network: Hudson Valley air still stagnant, says Lung Association report

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April 27, 2011

ALBANY – 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 reflect last year’s with all but one receiving failing grades.

Of the counties measured – Westchester, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster and Rockland – only Ulster received a passing grade for ozone levels. This study mirrored the results of last year’s study.

Westchester County got an “F” for ozone with 24 orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups) and four red (unhealthy) ozone pollution days. That is a decrease from 28 orange and five red days in last year’s report. The county also rated an “F” last year and has the second worst ozone pollution in the state, second to Suffolk County.

Putnam County get an “F” for ozone with 18 orange and three red ozone days, one fewer than last year. Putnam also received an “F” in last year’s report.

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

Dutchess County earned an earned an “F” for ozone pollution with 15 orange days for ozone pollution, one more day than in 2010. Dutchess was one of only two counties in the state whose number of high ozone days increased when compared to last year.

Ulster is again the only county in the Hudson Valley to receive a passing grade for ozone pollution. The county earned a “C”, the same as last year, and reduced its number of orange ozone days from six to three.

Rockland County now has an ozone monitor, but there is not enough data to give it a grade.

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

“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.”

In other areas of New York, the report found Nassau County improved its grade for particle pollution from a “C” to a “B”. New York City metro area ranked 17th on the top 25 list of US cities most polluted by ozone and 25th on the top 25 of US cities most polluted for annual particle pollution.

In the Capital Region, Albany County improved its grade for ozone from an “F” to a “D”.

In the North Country, Essex and St. Lawrence are among the top 25 cleanest counties nationwide.

In Central New York, Onondaga earned a place on the list as one of the cleanest counties in the nation for short-term particle pollution but earned a “D” for ozone. Oswego County improved from an “F” to a “D” for ozone pollution.

In Western New York, Erie, Monroe, Niagara and Chautauqua counties all received “Fs” for ozone pollution.