Lung Association Report: Atlanta’s Air Quality Improves, Still Receives “F” Grade for Ozone Pollution

Report reveals fewer unhealthy ozone pollution days, improved particle pollution

This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that Atlanta’s air quality has improved for ozone pollution, and both year-round and short-term particle pollution, however, the city ranks as the 35th most polluted in the nation for ozone pollution. See the full report at

The Lung Association’s annual air quality “report card” tracks and grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of particle pollution (also known as soot) and ozone (smog) over a three-year period – this year’s report covers 2017-2019.

“We are happy to see improvement, however the presence of ozone and particle pollution can still harm the health of residents, particularly at risk are children, older adults and people living with lung disease,” said June Deen, the director of advocacy for the Lung Association.

Ozone Pollution in Atlanta
Compared to the 2020 report, Atlanta experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” ranked Atlanta as the 35th most polluted city for ozone pollution, which is a slight improvement from their ranking of 33rd in last year’s report. The area still received an “F” grade for ozone pollution and remains designated an “ozone nonattainment area” by the EPA, which is an official action saying that the area has too much ozone.

Particle Pollution in Atlanta
The “State of the Air” report found that year-round particle pollution levels in Atlanta were lower than in last year’s report. The area was ranked 31st most polluted for year-round particle pollution (improved from 23rd worst last year). The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Atlanta’s short-term particle pollution levels improved in this year’s report, which means there were fewer unhealthy days. The area is ranked 71st worst for short-term particle pollution.

The “State of the Air” report found that nationwide, more than 4 in 10 people (135 million) lived with polluted air, placing their health and lives at risk. In Atlanta, ozone and particle pollution placed its residents at risk, including those who are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, such as older adults, children and people with a lung disease. The report also shows that nationally, people of color were 61% more likely to live in a county with unhealthy air than white people, and three times more likely to live in a county that failed all three air quality grades. The report also finds that climate change made air quality worse and harder to clean up.

The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: average annual levels and short-term spikes. Both ozone and particle pollution can cause premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks and cardiovascular damage and are linked to developmental and reproductive harm. Particle pollution can also cause lung cancer.

Learn more about “State of the Air” at and sign the petition for the Biden Administration to promote clean air, a safe climate and environmental justice. Media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, clean air and threats to air quality can contact Jill Dale at [email protected] or at 312-940-7001. 

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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