NEW ORLEANS, LA | April 20, 2021
This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that New Orleans’ ozone and year-round particle pollution improved compared to last year’s report. 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.
“Although the air pollution levels have improved, the pollution in New Orleans 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 Ashley Lyerly, the director of advocacy for the Lung Association. “Fortunately, the area was ranked 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 New Orleans
Compared to the 2020 report, New Orleans experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” found that New Orleans had a weighted average of 1.0 days (a C grade) of unhealthy ozone levels for 2017-2019, better than the area’s 1.7 days (also a C) in last year’s report. The area was ranked 101st most polluted for ozone.
Particle Pollution in New Orleans
The “State of the Air” report found that year-round particle pollution levels in New Orleans were lower than in last year’s report. The area was ranked 99th most polluted for year-round particle pollution (improved from 94th worst last year). The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. New Orleans 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.
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 New Orleans, ozone and year-round 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.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is 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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