Lung Association Report: Little Rock’s Air Quality Gets Worse

Report reveals more unhealthy air pollution for Little Rock metro area

This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that Little Rock’s year-round particle pollution has gotten worse. The area is ranked 28th most polluted for year-round particle pollution, which is slightly worse than last year, when it was ranked 30th. See the full report at Lung.org/sota.

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.

“The levels of particle pollution seen in Little Rock can harm the health of all of our residents, but place our children, older adults and people living with lung disease particularly at risk,” said Shannon Baker, the director of advocacy for the Lung Association. “Fortunately, the area was ranked for the 4th consecutive year as one of the cleanest cities for short-term particle pollution, which means that there were no unhealthy days for this common pollutant.”

Ozone Pollution in Little Rock
Compared to the 2020 report, Little Rock experienced the same number of high ozone days in this year’s report. “State of the Air” found that Little Rock had a weighted average of 1.0 days (a C grade) of poor air quality days during the years 2017-2019. The area ranked 101st most polluted for ozone nationally. 

Particle Pollution in Little Rock
The “State of the Air” report found that year-round particle pollution levels in Little Rock were slightly worse than in last year’s report. The area was ranked 28th most polluted for year-round particle pollution. The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Little Rock was ranked as one of the cleanest cities for short-term particle pollution, which means that there were no unhealthy air quality days for particle pollution. While the Little Rock area didn’t see any short-term spikes in particle pollution, it is critical to clean up the year-round particle pollution caused by coal-fired power plants, diesel trucks and buses.

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 Little Rock, 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 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 Lung.org/sota 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
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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