Eugene-Springfield Area Air Quality Worsens, According to 2019 ‘State of the Air’ Report
(April 24, 2019) - EUGENE, Ore.
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The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” 2019 report found that the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan statistical area (MSA) area is now the 38th most polluted area in the U.S. for annual particle pollution, jumping 57 spots from its 98th most polluted ranking last year. MSAs are geographical regions with a population density and close economic ties throughout the area. The Eugene-Springfield MSA is inclusive of Lane County.
The area is also now the 62nd most polluted area in the country for ozone pollution. The area improved slightly for short term particle pollution and is now the 19th most polluted for short-term particle pollution.
The annual air quality “report card” tracks Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of ozone or particle pollution, both of which can be deadly. The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, as these can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Lane County experienced a significant increase in unhealthy particle days and received an “F” grade. Many of these spikes were directly linked to events like wildfires, which are increasing in frequency and intensity in many areas due to climate change. Wintertime inversions, like those occurring in Oakridge, combined with smoke from burning wood for heat also contributes to particle pollution.
“People living in the area should know that we’re breathing even more unhealthy air, driven by wildfires as a result of climate change, placing our health and lives at risk,” said Cathy Gidley, Executive Director for the American Lung Association in Oregon. “Many areas in Oregon have seen their air quality become more polluted, and we have to do more to protect public health and our lives.”
Across the state, the Medford-Grants Pass area is now the 10th most polluted area in the U.S. for annual particle pollution and 17th most polluted for short-term particle pollution. The Bend-Prineville and Portland-Vancouver-Salem areas now rank as the 22nd and 23rd most polluted for short-term particle pollution respectively.
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.
“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 Gidley.
Learn more about Eugene’s rankings, as well as air quality across Oregon 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 Holly Harvey at [email protected] or 206-512-3292.
Top 25 most polluted cities for short-term particle pollution
1. Bakersfield, CA
2. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA
3. Fairbanks, AK
4. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA
5. Missoula, MT
6. Yakima, WA
7. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
8. Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, UT
9. Seattle-Tacoma, WA
10. Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV
11. Logan, UT-ID
12. Visalia, CA
13. Phoenix Mesa, AZ
14. El Centro, CA
15. Spokane-Spokane Valley-Coeur d’Alene, WA-ID (tie)
15. Sacramento-Roseville, CA (tie)
17. Medford-Grants Pass, OR (tie)
17. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA (tie)
19. Eugene-Springfield, OR
20. Salinas, CA
21. Anchorage, AK
22. Bend-Prineville, OR
23. Portland-Vancouver-Salem, OR-WA (tie)
23. Reno-Carson City-Fernley, NV (tie)
25. Bismarck, ND (tie)
25. Pocatello, ID (tie)
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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