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Western Wisconsin’s Air Quality Continues to Be Some of the Cleanest in the Nation, Finds 2019 ‘State of the Air’ Report -- Climate Change Impacting Air Quality in Other Parts of the State

American Lung Association’s 20th annual air quality report finds more than 4 in 10 Americans live with unhealthy air quality.

Editor’s Note: Trend charts and rankings for metropolitan areas and county grades are available at Lung.org/sota

(April 24, 2019) - BROOKFIELD, Wisc.

For more information please contact:

Dona Wininsky
[email protected]
(262) 703-4840

The American Lung Association’s 2019 “State of the Air” report found air quality in western Wisconsin earned perfect grades for the nation’s most widespread air pollutants. The annual air quality “report card” tracks Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of ozone and particle pollution, both of which can be deadly. The 20th annual report found the counties in western Wisconsin enjoy near pristine air, earning them straight As in the report. Two counties (Eau Claire and La Crosse) were monitored for ozone and particle pollution; Grant County was only monitored for particle pollution.

“Residents should be aware that while many Wisconsinites thankfully don’t have to worry about their air quality, others are still being exposed to air pollution.  Potential sources include emissions from power plants and vehicles and, hotter weather as a result of climate change, placing our health and lives at risk,” said Dona Wininsky of the American Lung Association in Wisconsin.

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.

Grades and number/severity of violations for the three counties in the region are:


County

Ozone

24 Hour Particle Pollution

Annual Particle Pollution

Eau Claire

A; 0 violations

A; 0 violations

Pass

Grant

DNC*

A

Pass

La Crosse

A

A

Pass

*Did Not Collect

Each year the “State of the Air” provides a report card on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone and particle pollution. The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes. 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.

Key Highlight in the report:

  • Eau Claire, Menomonee, La Crosse and Onalaska all ranked on both the cleanest lists for ozone and short-term particle pollution, recording 0 violations for either pollutant.

Ozone Pollution
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.

“Another factor for parts of Wisconsin is the ‘Chicago effect,’ – pollution that drifts north from south of the border, negatively impacting the state’s lakefront communities,” Wininsky said, “In these counties it is critically important that people be aware of that pollution, so they can protect themselves.  Ozone is unhealthy, regardless of the source.”

Particle Pollution
The 2019 report also found year-round particle pollution levels slightly lower than the 2018 report, but that an increase in 24-hour particle pollution levels indicates higher spikes of limited duration.  Nationwide, the best progress in this year’s report came in reducing year-round levels of particle pollution.

Many of these spikes in can be directly linked to weather patterns like drought or to events like wildfires, which are increasing in frequency and intensity in many areas due to climate change and high emissions from wood-burning devices.

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 the region’s county rankings, as well as air quality across Wisconsin 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 Dona Wininsky at [email protected] or 262-703-4840.

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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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