Lung Association Report: Columbus Named One of Cleanest Cities for Two Common Pollutants

Report reveals zero unhealthy days for ozone and short-term particle pollution

This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association named Columbus one of the cleanest cities for both ozone and short-term particle pollution, however, the area did see an increase in the levels of year-round particle 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 improvements in Columbus’ air quality, however the levels of year-round particle pollution can still harm the health of residents, and 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 Columbus
Columbus experienced zero unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report and received an “A” grade for this common pollutant.

Particle Pollution in Columbus
The “State of the Air” report found that year-round particle pollution levels in the Columbus metro area were higher than in last year’s report. The area was ranked 34th most polluted for year-round particle pollution (worse than the ranking of 46th last year). The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Fortunately, Columbus had zero days of unhealthy particle pollution and was named one of the cleanest cities in the country in this area. 

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 Columbus, year-round particle pollution placed residents at risk, including those 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 three years covered by the report were among the six warmest in global history.

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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