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Washington has Mixed Air Quality - Cities Rank as Some of the Most Polluted and Cleanest in the U.S.

Despite continued improvement in air quality in the U.S., residents health remains at risk from unhealthy air, according to American Lung Associations 19th annual air quality report.

(April 18, 2018) - SEATTLE, WA

For more information please contact:

Holly Harvey
[email protected]
(206) 512-3292

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2018 report shows that Washington has air quality on both ends of the spectrum – the cleanest and some of the most polluted. The trends reported in this year’s report, which covers data collected by states, cities, counties, tribes and federal agencies in 2014-2016, serve as a strong reminder that addressing climate change and its impacts on air quality are key to the fight for healthy air.

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.

“Federal and state policies like the Clean Air Act are working. We can improve air quality, but the impacts of climate change are interfering with progress,” said Carrie Nyssen, Vice President of Advocacy and Air Quality for the American Lung Association in Washington. “Our reality is Washingtonians are breathing unhealthy air which puts us at risk for premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma, COPD and lung cancer. We must continue the life-saving work of cleaning up our air.”

Key Report Findings

  • The Seattle-Tacoma area ranks as the 15th most-polluted area for short-term particle pollution, a worsening in it’s ranking from no. 17 last year. Yakima also made the list at no. 17 for this year in short-term particle pollution.
  • The city of Bellingham is one of only six cities in the U.S. to be on all three cleanest cities lists for ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution. Bellingham had zero high ozone or high particle pollution days, and was among the 25 cities with the lowest year-round particle levels.
  • The city of Wenatchee was listed as the no. 10 cleanest city in the nation for year-round particle pollution.

“Across the nation, the report found continued improvement in air quality, but still, more than four in 10 Americans – 133.9 million – live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution, where their health is at risk,” said Nyssen. “We can do more to clean our air and save lives. Implementing a clean fuels program and reducing our carbon emissions will clean our air. The Lung Association in Washington also urges our members of Congress to defend the Clean Air Act, currently under attack in Washington D.C. We also call on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement and enforce the law instead of trying to roll back major safeguards like the Clean Power Plan and cleaner cars, both steps that help us fight climate change and reduce air pollution.” 

Climate change is worsening our air pollution problems, as the State of the Air 2018 report shows. Warmer temperatures linked to climate change increase the frequency and severity of ozone days and make it harder to reach our clean air goals. Climate change is also linked to extreme weather patterns, drought and wildfires, which contribute to increased particle pollution.

“With record-setting heat in 2016, high ozone days increased dramatically which puts millions more people at risk.” Nyssen said. “This also puts creates challenges to the work cities are doing across the nation to clean up.”

For more information about Washington’s local air quality data and grades for each county and metropolitan area, visit www.stateoftheair.org. For media interested in speaking with an expert, please contact Holly Harvey at the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific at (206) 512-3292 or [email protected].

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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 Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

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