New Lung Association Report: Erie-Meadville Metro Area Earns First “A” Grade Ever for Ozone Smog; Also Named One of the Cleanest Cities for Daily Measure of Fine Particle Pollution

American Lung Association “State of the Air” Report reveals that residents also enjoyed best ever long-term average of fine particle pollution.

The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released today by the American Lung Association, finds that the Erie-Meadville metro area’s rankings remained among the best for some of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone. The metro area placed on two lists of cleanest cities in the nation—for ozone smog and for the daily measure of fine particle pollution. And after improving to its lowest level for its fifth consecutive year for the year-round measure of fine particles, the metro area’s ranking improved to 137th worst in the country out of 202 cities.  

The “State of the Air” report is the Lung Association’s annual air quality “report card” that tracks and grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone air pollution (also known as smog), annual particle pollution (also known as soot), and short-term spikes in particle pollution, over a three-year period. This year’s report covers 2018-2020. See the full report at Lung.org/sota. 

“The levels of ozone and particle pollution seen in much of the country can harm the health of many people, but particularly at risk are children, older adults, pregnant people and those living with chronic disease. Both ozone and particle pollution can cause premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm. Particle pollution can also cause lung cancer,” said Molly Pisciottano, Director of Advocacy for the Lung Association. “Fortunately, the area did see an improvement in the levels of year-round particle pollution and earned ‘A’ grades for both pollutants measured on a daily basis.” 

Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Erie-Meadville Metro Area  

After earning a “B” grade and tying for 137th worst city for ozone smog pollution in the 2021 report, the Erie-Meadville metro area experienced zero unhealthy days of high ozone for the first time ever, placing it among the nation’s cleanest cities for ozone smog. This is the result of Erie County earning its first “A” grade for ozone pollution, placing it among the nation’s cleanest counties. 

Particle Pollution in Erie-Meadville Metro Area  

The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. For the sixth consecutive year, the Erie-Meadville metro area posted zero unhealthy days high in particle pollution, placing it among the nation’s cleanest cities for short-term fine particle pollution as Erie County again earned an “A” grade for this measure as well. 

The 2022 “State of the Air” found that the year-round average of fine particle pollution in the metro area improved to its best ever for the fifth consecutive year in the current report. Erie County’s average value, which meets the air quality standard, was distinctly better than in the previous report. As a result, the metro area was ranked 137th most polluted for year-round particle pollution, better than its ranking of 111th worst last year.  

The report found that nationwide, nearly 9 million more people were impacted by deadly particle pollution than  reported last year. It also shows more days with “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” air quality than ever before in the two-decade history of this report. Overall, more than 137 million Americans live in counties that had unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution. Communities of color are disproportionately exposed to unhealthy air. The report found that people of color were 61% more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade for at least one pollutant, and 3.6 times as likely to live in a county with a failing grade for all three pollutants. 

The addition of 2020 data to the 2022 “State of the Air” report gives a first look at air quality trends during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of the shutdowns in early 2020, there was no obvious improvement.  

The American Lung Association is calling on the Biden administration to strengthen the national limits on both short-term and year-round particulate matter air pollution. Stronger standards will educate the public about air pollution levels that threaten their health and drive the cleanup of polluting sources in communities across the country. See the full report results and sign the petition at Lung.org/SOTA. 

Media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, clean air and threats to air quality can contact Val Gleason at [email protected] or 717-971-1123.

For more information, contact:

Valerie Gleason
717-971-1123
[email protected]

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