Lung Association Report: Macon Receives Mixed Grades for Air Quality

Report reveals more unhealthy particle pollution days, improved ozone pollution

This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association gives Macon mixed grades for air quality. The area saw more days of unhealthy air quality days for short-term particle pollution but had improvements in ozone and 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.

“Short-term particle pollution can harm the health of all residents, but particularly at risk are children, older adults and people living with lung disease,” said June Deen, the director of advocacy for the Lung Association. “Fortunately, the area did see an improvement in both ozone and year-round particle pollution.”

Ozone Pollution in Macon
Compared to the 2020 report, Macon experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” ranked Macon as the 137th most polluted city for ozone pollution, which is an improvement compared to their ranking of 122nd in last year’s report. The area received a “B” grade for ozone pollution.

Particle Pollution in Macon
The “State of the Air” report found that year-round particle pollution levels in Macon were lower than in last year’s report. The area was ranked 56th most polluted for year-round particle pollution (better than the ranking of 41st last year). The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Macon’s short-term particle pollution one of the worst in the Southeast Region. The area is ranked 47th most polluted nationally for short-term particle pollution, which is worse than the ranking of 56th last year. This means that there were more days with unhealthy 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 Macon, despite improvements, air pollution placed residents at risk, including those who are more vulnerable 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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