Over 10.8 Million New Yorkers Live in Counties with Failing Air Quality, Finds 2016 ‘State of the Air’ Report | American Lung Association

Over 10.8 Million New Yorkers Live in Counties with Failing Air Quality, Finds 2016 ‘State of the Air’ Report

Despite continued improvement in air quality, local residents remain at risk from health effects of unhealthy air, according to new report from the American Lung Association

(April 20, 2016) -

ALBANY, NY-The American Lung Association’s 2016 “State of the Air” report found that air quality improved across the country but most counties in New York saw higher ozone days than the 2015 report. In keeping with the trend seen across the nation, most counties in New York State maintained year-round particle pollution levels. Metro New York continues to rank on two most polluted cities list for ozone and short-term particle pollution.  New York City remains one of the few eastern cities on the most polluted for ozone list. Albany-Schenectady and Syracuse-Auburn were included on the list for the cleanest cities for both year-round and short-term particle pollution.  Elmira-Corning also made the list of cleanest cities, meaning it had no unhealthy days for ozone or particle pollution.

“The 2016 ‘State of the Air’ report finds unhealthful levels of ozone in New York State, putting millions of New Yorkers at risk for premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks and cardiovascular harm,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Across the nation, the report found continued improvement in air quality, but more than half of New Yorkers live in counties that have unhealthful levels of air pollution.”

Each year the “State of the Air” reports on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution and particle pollution. The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution. Both ozone and particle pollution are dangerous to public health and can be lethal. But the trends reported in this year’s report, which covers data collected in 2012-2014, are strikingly different for these pollutants nationwide, and also in New York.

Ozone Pollution in New York State
Twelve counties in New York received an F for high ozone days. Those counties are: Albany, Chautauqua, Erie, Jefferson, Monroe, New York, Niagara, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester. The New York-Newark metro area had fewer high ozone days in 2012-2014, reversing a trend seen since the 2014 report.

“Ozone is harmful to public health and especially children, older adults and those with asthma and other lung diseases,” said Michael Seilback, Vice President of Public Policy & Communications for the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “When older adults or children with asthma breathe ozone-polluted air, too often they end up in the doctor’s office, the hospital or the emergency room.”

Nationwide, ozone pollution has decreased because the nation has cleaned up major sources of the emissions that create ozone, especially coal-fired power plants and vehicles. However, according to research, climate change causes warmer temperatures, which makes ozone harder to clean up.

Particle Pollution in New York
The 2016 report also found year-round particle pollution (soot) levels in 2012-2014 were similar to the 2015 report. Nationwide, the best progress in this year’s report came in reducing year-round levels of particle pollution. All counties with a monitor passed for year-round particle pollution.  Albany received an A for short-term particle pollution. The Bronx and Erie counties both received A’s for short-term particle pollution.

“Particle pollution is made of soot or tiny particles that come from coal-fired power plants, diesel emissions, wildfires and wood-burning devices. These particles are so small that they can lodge deep in the lungs and trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes, and can even be lethal,” said Seyler. “Year-round particle pollution levels have dropped thanks to the cleanup of coal-fired power plants and the retirement of old, dirty diesel engines.”

The 2016 report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, as these can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. According to the 2016 report, no counties in New York saw any spikes in short-term particle pollution days that reached unhealthy levels in 2012-2014. This is in keeping with the trend across the nation of reducing short-term spikes in particle pollution.

“If we can do more to save lives—we should, and we can,” said Dr. E Neil Schachter, Professor of Medicine Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and member of the American Lung Association of the Northeast’s Board of Directors. “The Lung Association calls on New York’s leaders to adopt a strong Clean Power Plan and to continue working on policies to reduce harmful emissions that worsen climate change and harm human health.” 

Learn more about New York’s rankings, as well as air quality across the state and the nation in the 2016 “State of the Air” report at stateoftheair.org. For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health and healthy air, contact Ebony Walmsley, Communications Associate for the American Lung Association of the Northeast at media@LungNE.org or 860-838-4374. .


Significant findings from the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2016 report for New York, by region, include:
Long Island:
• Suffolk County received an F for ozone
• Suffolk’s grade for short-term particle pollution remained an A
• Suffolk’s annual particle pollution level remained the same
• Nassau County does not have an ozone monitor
There was insufficient data to give Nassau a grade for short-term particle pollution.

New York City
• The New York City metropolitan area (New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA) ranked14th for most polluted in the nation by ozone and placed on the top 25 list of U.S. cities most polluted by ozone.
• The New York City metropolitan area (New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA) ranked 24th for most polluted city for short-term particle pollution. 
• The New York City metropolitan area (New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA) ranked tied 36th for most polluted for annual particle pollution.   
• Queens’ ozone grade remained an F; Queens’ grade remained an A for short-term particle pollution with zero unhealthy air days.
• Bronx received an F for ozone.
• Bronx’s grade for short-term particle pollution remained an A. 
• Kings’ grade for short-term particle pollution remained an A.
• Kings does not have an ozone monitor.
Hudson Valley
• Putnam received a C for ozone.
• Westchester grade for ozone remained an F.
• Westchester had insufficient data to obtain a grade for short term particle pollution.
• Rockland received an F for ozone with.  Rockland does not have a monitor for particle pollution.
• Dutchess’s grade for ozone remained a C; 6 orange days and 0 red days (3 more orange days than in 2015 report) Dutchess does not have a monitor for particle pollution.
• Orange received an A for ozone.
• Orange’s grade for short term particle pollution remained an A.
• Ulster had insufficient data to obtain a grade for ozone pollution.  Ulster does not have a monitor for particle pollution.
 

Capital Region
• Albany received a D for ozone.
• Albany received an A for short-term particle pollution.
• Saratoga received a B for ozone. No particle pollution monitor.
• Rensselaer had insufficient data to obtain a grade for ozone pollution.
• Albany-Schenectady ranked tied for 144th most polluted for ozone.
• Albany-Schenectady ranked as one of the cleanest cities for year-round particle pollution.
• Albany-Schenectady ranked as one of the cleanest cities for annual particle pollution.
 
North Country
• Hamilton received a C for ozone. No particle pollution monitor.
• Franklin’s grade for ozone remained an A.  No particle pollution monitor.
• Jefferson received an F for ozone. No particle pollution monitor.
• Essex received a D for ozone.
• Essex received an A for short-term particle pollution.
Central New York
• Oswego received a C for ozone No particle pollution monitor.
• Madison had insufficient data to obtain a grade for ozone pollution. No particle pollution monitor.
• Onondaga received a D for ozone.  Onondaga again earned an A for short-term particle pollution with zero unhealthy days.
• Herkimer received an A for ozone. No particle pollution monitor.
• Oneida had insufficient data to obtain a grade for ozone and particle pollution.
• Tompkins received a C for ozone. 
• Syracuse-Auburn was listed among the cleanest cities for short-term particle and year-round particle pollution.
 

Western New York & Southern Tier
• Chautauqua’s ozone grade remained an F.
• Chautauqua received an A for short-term particle pollution.
• Erie received an F for ozone; Erie’s grade for short-term particle pollution remained an A with zero unhealthy days.
• Monroe received an F for ozone; Monroe’s grade for short-term particle pollution remained an A.
• Niagara received an F; Niagara had insufficient data to receive a grade for short term particle pollution.
• Niagara again has insufficient data to receive grade for annual particle pollution.
• Steuben’s grade for ozone and particle pollution both remained A’s.
• Chemung had insufficient data to receive grade for ozone. No particle pollution monitor.
• Wayne received a C  for ozone.
• Elmira-Corning was among the cleanest cities for ozone and both annual and short-term particle pollution.
• Buffalo-Cheektowaga ranked tied for 70th most polluted for ozone.
• Buffalo-Cheektowaga ranked tied for 111th most polluted for annual particle pollution.
• Rochester-Batavia-Seneca Falls ranked tied for 111th most polluted for ozone.
• Rochester-Batavia-Seneca Falls ranked as one of the cleanest cities for short-term particle pollution.

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