CHARLESTON, WV | April 19, 2023
The Lung Association’s 24th annual “State of the Air” report grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone air pollution, annual particle pollution and short-term spikes in particle pollution over a three-year period. This year’s report covers 2019-2021.
“As we can see from this year’s report data, there is much work to be done in the Charleston-Huntington-Ashland to improve our air quality,” said Aleks Casper, Director of Advocacy, VA, DC, MD, DE for the Lung Association. “Even one poor air quality day is one too many for our residents at highest risk, such as children, older adults, individuals who are pregnant and those living with chronic disease. That’s why we are calling on lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels to take action to ensure that everyone has clean air to breathe.”
Nationally, the report found that ozone pollution has generally improved across the nation, thanks in large part to the success of the Clean Air Act. However, more work remains to fully clean up harmful pollution, and short-term particle pollution continues to get worse. In addition, some communities bear a greater burden of air pollution. Out of the nearly 120 million people who live in areas with unhealthy air quality, a disproportionate number – more than 64 million (54%) – are people of color. In fact, people of color were 64% more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade for at least one measure, and 3.7 times as likely to live in a county with a failing grade for all three measures.
Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Charleston-Huntington-Ashland, WV-OH-KY
Compared to the 2022 report, experienced fewer (zero) unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” placed the metro area on the cleanest cities list for ozone pollution for the first time, with all six counties reporting ozone data (Boyd, Carter, and Greenup, KY; Lawrence, OH; and Cabell and Kanawha, WV) posting zero days (an ‘A’ grade) with unhealthy levels of ozone smog.
Particle Pollution in Charleston-Huntington-Ashland, WV-OH-KY
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. The Charleston metro area’s short-term particle pollution got worse in this year’s report, which means there were more unhealthy days. The area was on the cleanest cities list for the measure last year, but no longer makes the list and is ranked tied for 118th worst for short-term particle pollution. The metro area received a 'B' grade for short-term particle pollution. While the five other graded counties maintained their ‘A’ grades, Boyd County, KY worsened in this year’s report. Still, Boyd County’s weighted average number of unhealthy days, 0.3 (a ‘B’ grade), was much better than the metro area’s worst mark of 7.2 days (an ‘F’ grade) set in Scioto County, OH in 2000-2002.
The 2023 “State of the Air” found the Charleston-Huntington-Ashland metro area, having recorded a best-ever average annual level in last year’s report, has worsened for year-round particle pollution levels in this year’s report, though it continues to meet the national standard. The area was ranked tied for 123rd most polluted for year-round particle pollution in this year’s report, worse than the ranking of 137th last year. Boyd County, KY was worst in the metro area in this year’s report.
The American Lung Association is calling on President Biden to urgently move forward on several measures to clean up air pollution nationwide, including new pollution limits on ozone and particle pollution and new measures to clean up power plants and vehicles. See the full report results and sign the petition at Lung.org/SOTA.
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 Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
A Breath of Fresh Air in Your Inbox
Want updates on the latest lung health news, including COVID-19, research, inspiring stories and health information?
Join the 700,000+ people getting our email updates!
You will now receive email updates from the American Lung Association.