Burlington Vermont Ranks as One of the Cleanest Cities for Air Quality, Finds 2019 ‘State of the Air’ Report
American Lung Association’s 20th annual air quality report finds more than 4 in 10 Americans live with unhealthy air quality, Burlington-South Burlington metro area is 1 of 6 nationwide to record zero bad air days for ozone and short-term particle pollution
Editor’s Note: Full Report, trend charts, rankings for metropolitan areas and county grades are now available at Lung.org/sota
(April 24, 2019) - WILLISTON, Vt.
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The American Lung Association’s 2019 “State of the Air” report found Vermont’s Burlington- South Burlington-Barre metro area is ranked as the 12th cleanest city for year round particle pollution in the U.S., and was one of only 6 cities nationwide to also record zero bad air days for ozone and short-term pollution. Vermont is repeatedly considered one of the cleanest state for air quality in the U.S.. The annual air quality “report card” tracks Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of ozone or particle pollution, both of which can be deadly.
“Vermont residents should be grateful to live in an area that has healthier air, compared to other places in the country, however, we must not take it for granted, ” said Elizabeth Hamlin-Berninger, Director of Advocacy in Vermont for the American Lung Association. “The 20th-anniversary ‘State of the Air’ report highlights that more than 4 in 10 Americans are living with unhealthy air, and we must continue to implement policy changes to reduce emissions and climate change impacts if we want to sustainably protect public health in Vermont and elsewhere.”
This year’s report covers the most recent quality-assured data available collected by states, cities, counties, tribes and federal agencies in 2015-2017. Notably, those three years were the hottest recorded in global history.
Each year the “State of the Air” provides a report card on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution, also known as smog, and particle pollution, also called soot. 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 increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm.
Compared to the 2018 report, Bennington County experienced 1 more unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report, but both Bennington and Chittenden maintained their B and A grades, respectively.
“Even one day ozone day can be harmful to a person who is healthy and active – but Vermont has 3,400 kids with pediatric asthma, over 25,000 adults with asthma, and over 13,000 adults with COPD. One bad ozone day puts these populations at risk, often driving them to the doctor’s office, the hospital or the emergency room,” said Hamlin-Berninger.
This report documents how warmer temperatures brought by climate change make ozone more likely to form and harder to clean up. This year’s report showed that ozone levels increased in most cities nationwide, in large part due to the record-breaking global heat experienced in the three years tracked in the report.
The 2019 report also found year-round particle pollution levels slightly lower than the 2018 report, in all three reporting counties. Nationwide, the best progress in this year’s report came in reducing year-round levels of 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 Hamlin-Berninger. “Year-round particle pollution levels have dropped thanks to the cleanup of coal-fired power plants and the retirement of old, dirty diesel engines.”
“State of the Air” 2019 also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, as these can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. The report found that Rutland County had 3 fewer days when short-term particle pollution reached unhealthy levels.
While the report examined data from 2015-2017, this 20th annual report online provides information on air pollution trends back to the first report. Learn more about Vermont’s grades, as well as air quality across the state and the nation, in the 2019 “State of the Air” report at Lung.org/sota. For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, healthy air, and threats to air quality, contact Jennifer Solomon at [email protected] or 516-680-8927.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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