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New Hampshire Air Quality Improved, but Rockingham County Receives an “F” for Ozone Pollution, 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) -

PORTSMOUTH, NH– The American Lung Association’s 2016 “State of the Air” report found that air quality has improved throughout the country. In keeping with the trend, Rockingham County was the only county in New Hampshire which received failing grade for high ozone days.  New Hampshire counties also received passing grades for year-round and short-term particle pollution.

“The 2016 ‘State of the Air’ report finds unhealthful levels of ozone in New Hampshire, putting New Hampshire residents 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 the people in the United States live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle 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 Hampshire.

Ozone Pollution in New Hampshire
Compared to the 2015 report (2011-2013), Hillsborough County received a D. Rockingham County was the only county to receive an F for high ozone days. Belknap and Cheshire counties maintained a grade of an A. Merrimack County also maintained its grade of a C. Grafton County received a B. Coos County maintained its grade of a B.

“Ozone is harmful to public health and especially children, older adults and those with asthma and other lung diseases,” said Lance Boucher, Director of Public Policy of the American Lung Association in New Hampshire. “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 Hampshire

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. Keeping with the trend of reducing particle pollution, no county in New Hampshire received a failing grade for year-round particle pollution. However, Coos County did not have a monitor to report a grade for year-round 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, every county with a monitor in New Hampshire did not see any spikes in short-term particle pollution days that reached unhealthy levels in 2012-2014. Belknap, Grafton, Hillsborough, Merrimack and Rockingham counties all received A’s for short-term particle pollution. While Cheshire County received a C. 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,” Marie Mulroy, a member of the American Lung Association of the Northeast’s Leadership Board in New Hampshire said. “The Lung Association calls on New Hampshire leaders to adopt a strong Clean Power Plan to reduce harmful emissions from power plants that worsen climate change and immediately harm health.”

Learn more about New Hampshire’s rankings, as well as air quality across the state and the nation in the 2016 “State of the Air” report at 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 [email protected] or 860-838-4374.

Significant findings from the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2016 report for New Hampshire include:
• Ozone grade remained an A with no unhealthy days
• Short-term particle pollution grade remained an A
• Annual particle pollution level improved slightly

• Ozone grade was a B
• Short-term particle pollution grade was a C
• Annual level of particle pollution level  improved slightly
• Ozone grade was a C; No particle pollution monitor
• Ozone grade was a B
• Short-term particle pollution grade remained an A
• Ozone grade was a D
• Short-term particle pollution grade remained an A
• Annual level of particle pollution level improved slightly.
• Earned a place on the list of cleanest counties for short-term particle pollution
• The Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT metro area ranked tied 70th for polluted city by ozone(rank was 56th in 2014 ,ozone improved)
• The Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT metro area ranked tied for 63rd  most polluted city for short-term particle pollution (maintained number of unhealthy ozone days).
The Boston-Worcester-Providence MA-RI-NH-CT metro area ranked tied for 117th  most polluted for annual particle pollution; this is the metro area’s lowest level ever
• Ozone grade was a B
• Short-term particle pollution grade remained an A 
• Annual level of particle pollution improved
• Ozone grade was an F
• Short-term particle pollution grade remained an A
• Rockingham passed for annual particle pollution .

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