Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Monroe County gets mixed marks for air quality

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Steve Orr
Staff writer
Apr. 28, 2011|

An annual air-quality ranking has given
Monroe County a good mark for one air
pollutant but a failing mark for another.

The American Lung Association's State of
the Air study, released Wednesday, graded
this area an "F" for concentrations of
ground-level ozone.

The study said the ambient air in the
county exceeded federal ozone standards
13 days between 2007 and 2009. The
statewide average was 11.5 days during
that period.

Monroe fared better with the other class of
pollutant measured in the study —
particles. Concentrations exceeded federal
standards just one day in that three-year
period, the lung association reported. That
was the same as the statewide average
and earned Monroe County a "B" grade.

Data included in the study showed
improving trends in the Rochester area for
both pollutants, especially particles. As the
Democrat and Chronicle reported in
February, scientists have documented a
dramatic decline in particle pollution here,
due mostly to closure of all but one of the
area's coal-burning power plants.

Sandra Kessler, interim president of the
association in New York, said that while the
report was "encouraging in that many
counties had fewer unhealthy air days, we
need to see more progress cleaning the
region's air so people can breathe easier
and enjoy improved lung health. This
report shows that air pollution isn't just a
downstate problem. It's a problem
throughout the region and state that affects
you whether you live in Brighton or in
Buffalo."

The study analyzes data collected by
government monitoring stations.

Ground-level ozone and particles are
products of combustion, originating mostly
in vehicle and coal-fired boiler emissions.
Both can cause irritation and shortness of
breath, trigger or exacerbate chronic
respiratory problems such as asthma and
contribute to premature death in
susceptible people.

The lung association study said risk-group
membership in Monroe County numbers
about 370,000.