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New Hampshire Continues Track of Improved 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

Editor’s Note: Full Report, trend charts, rankings for metropolitan areas and county grades are now available at Lung.org/sota

(April 24, 2019) - PORTSMOUTH, N.H.

For more information please contact:

Jennifer Solomon
[email protected]
(516) 680-8927

The American Lung Association’s 2019 “State of the Air” report found counties across New Hampshire reported lower year-round particle pollution numbers, and fewer bad ozone days.  Several New Hampshire counties were also listed on the “Cleanest Counties” lists for ozone, short-term and long 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.

“New Hampshire residents should be grateful to live in an area that has improving air quality, however, we must not take it for granted, ” said Lance Boucher, Senior Division Director of State Public Policy for the American Lung Association in New Hampshire. “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 New Hampshire 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.

Ozone Pollution
Compared to the 2018 report,  both Grafton and Rockingham counties experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. Coos county did experience one additional bad ozone day, compared to the 2018 report, causing its grade to drop back from a C to a D.

“Even one day ozone day can be harmful to a person who is healthy and active – but New Hampshire has over 15,0400 kids with pediatric asthma, over 120,000 adults with asthma, and over 61,000 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 Boucher.

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.

Particle Pollution
The 2019 report also found year-round particle pollution levels slightly lower than the 2018 report, in all five 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 Boucher. “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 Cheshire County reported only 1 day when short-term particle pollution reached unhealthy levels, which in unchanged from the 2018 report.

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 New Hampshire 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.

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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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