American Lung Association Grades North Dakota’s Air, Bismarck Honored

(April 24, 2013)

Bismarck, ND – Bismarck was one of four U.S. metro regions to make all three “cleanest cities” lists in the 2013 State of the Air Report, which was issued today by the American Lung Association.  The other three metro areas honored were Rapid City, South Dakota and the Cape Coral-Fort Myers and Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville regions in Florida.

The State of the Air Report covers eight counties in North Dakota that have permanent air quality monitors: Billings, Burke, Burleigh, Cass, Dunn, McKenzie, Mercer and Oliver. This year’s report looks at data collected from 2009-2011 time period and verified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In this year’s report, all of the eight counties received an “A” grade for high ozone days. Billings, Burleigh and Mercer counties received “A” marks for particle pollution, but Cass County earned a “B” grade for short-term particle pollution. 

“As in previous years, North Dakota scored very well in the 2013 State of the Air Report,” said Robert Moffitt, a spokesperson for the American Lung Association in North Dakota.  “The 2013 report is a look back that may not reflect the recent growth and developments in the Bakken oil shale region.  It is difficult to get a comprehensive picture of the air quality of a state this large with only eight monitors.  That said, Burke, Dunn, McKenzie and Oliver counties now have particle pollution monitors as well as ozone monitors, and these should provide valuable data for future State of the Air Reports.”

Moffitt noted that many factors can contribute to a state’s scores, including weather patterns, geography, and the number and location of densely populated urban centers.  “Air pollution is a regional problem that does not respect borders or boundaries,” he said.  “As we sometimes have problems with smoke from fires in Montana or Canada, likewise the pollution we create in North Dakota can end up in neighboring states. It’s an issue we all need to work together to solve.”

A link to the full report can be found here.