The Corning Leader: Air quality report: Southern Tier can breathe easy

corning leader logo

By The Leader Staff

Corning Leader

Posted Apr 27, 2011

The Southern Tier received a passing grade for air quality on a recent report card from the American Lung Association.

Both Steuben and Chemung counties received C’s for ozone pollution, according to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2011 report.

According to the association, 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, American Lung Association officials said.

None of the counties on the report card received a grade higher than a C for ozone pollution.

“This report shows that air pollution isn’t just a downstate problem,” said Sandra Kessler, interim president and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York. “It’s a problem throughout the region and state that affects you whether you live in Brighton or in Buffalo.”

The American Lung Association’s report grades counties based, in part, on the color-coded Air Quality Index developed by the Environmental Protection Agency to help alert the public to daily unhealthy air conditions.

 The association identified the number of days when 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.

Steuben County had four orange ozone days, which is the same as in 2010. Chemung County recorded three orange days, which is also unchanged from the previous year.

The American Lung Association said the numbers indicate that continued pressure needs to be applied to lawmakers in Albany and Washington, D.C.

“These results show that the Clean Air Act and other clean air laws are working,” Kessler said. “To ensure all New Yorkers breathe healthy air, it is our job to make sure that Congress doesn’t weaken the Clean Air Act and that state government doesn’t roll back important clean air regulations.”

The State of the Air 2011 report is available at www.stateoftheair.org.