Detroit Metro Area Ranks 13th Worst in Nation for Annual Particle Pollution, According to the 2024 ‘State of the Air’ Report

American Lung Association’s 25th Annual “State of the Air” report highlights air quality in the Detroit metro area and across the nation

The Detroit metro area was named one of the worst cities in the nation for annual pollution, according to the American Lung Association’s 2024 “State of the Air” report, which was released today. In addition, Detroit area counties were given failing grades for ozone and both short-term and annual particle pollution.

The Lung Association’s 25th annual “State of the Air” report grades 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 includes air quality data from 2020-2022 and is updated to reflect the new annual particle pollution standard that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized in February.

“In the 25 years that the American Lung Association has been doing our ‘State of the Air’ report, we have seen incredible improvement in our nation’s air quality. Unfortunately, more than 131 million people still live in places with unhealthy levels of air pollution, and the Detroit metro area is listed as one of the worst places for annual particle pollution,” said Ken Fletcher, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Michigan. “Climate change is making air pollution more likely to form and more difficult to clean up, so there are actions we can and must take to improve air quality. We are also calling on EPA to set long-overdue stronger national limits on ozone pollution.”

Ground-level Ozone Pollution in the Detroit metro area: 
The “State of the Air” report looked at levels of ozone “smog,” the air pollutant affecting the largest number of people in the United States. The Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI metro area ranked 33rd worst in the nation for ozone pollution. The ranking was based on the area’s worst county’s average number of unhealthy days—5.7 days per year, an F grade, in Macomb County, Michigan. This was better than the area's ranking in last year's report of 32nd worst, with 5.3 days per year, an F grade.  

Particle Pollution in the Detroit metro area: 
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. The Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI metro area ranked 35th worst in the nation for short-term particle pollution. The ranking was based on the area’s worst county’s average number of unhealthy days—5.8 days per year, an F grade, in Wayne County, Michigan. This was the same as the area's ranking in last year's report of 35th worst, with 4.2 days per year, an F grade.  

For the year-round average level of particle pollution, the area’s worst county, Wayne County, Michigan, received a failing grade for pollution levels above the federal standard that was recently updated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI metro area is ranked 13th worst in the nation. This was better than the area's ranking in last year's report of 12th worst in the nation. 

The “State of the Air” report found that nationally, more than 131 million people live in an area that received a failing grade for at least one measure of air pollution, and 43.9 million people live in areas with failing grades for all three measures. In the three years covered by this report, individuals in the U.S. experienced the highest number of days when particle pollution reached “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” levels in the history of reporting the “State of the Air.” Communities of color are disproportionately exposed to unhealthy air and are also more likely to be living with one or more chronic conditions that make them more vulnerable to air pollution, including asthma, diabetes and heart disease. The report found that a person of color in the U.S. is more than twice as likely as a white individual to live in a community with a failing grade on all three pollution measures.

Both ozone and particle pollution can cause premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, preterm births and impaired cognitive functioning later in life. Particle pollution can also cause lung cancer. 

EPA recently finalized new air pollution rules that will help clean up particle pollution and address climate change. Now, the Lung Association is urging EPA to set long overdue stronger national limits on ozone pollution. Stronger limits would help people protect themselves and drive cleanup of polluting sources across the country. See the full report results and sign the petition at Lung.org/SOTA.

Get involved and help the mission of American Lung Association. Fight for Air Climb Detroit is coming up on May 19. Learn more at FightForAirClimb.org/Detroit.

For more information, contact:

James A. Martinez
(312) 445-2501
[email protected]

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