American Lung Association Report: Erie-Meadville Metro Area Again Among Cleanest Cities for Both Ozone Smog and Daily Measure of Fine Particle Pollution

1 in 3 Nationwide Exposed to Unhealthy Air
The Erie-Meadville metro area’s air quality remained among the best in the nation for two daily measures of air pollution, according to the American Lung Association’s 2023 “State of the Air” report, which was released today. Nationally, the report found that nearly 120 million people, or more than one in three, in the U.S. live in counties that had unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

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.

“Here in the Erie-Meadville metro area and across the nation, we are seeing ozone pollution improving, thanks in big part to the success of the Clean Air Act. But there is more work to do,” said Aimee Van Cleave, Director of Advocacy 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.”

“We know that social disparities lead to health disparities, and that is also reflected in this report which shows that improvement has been uneven where people of color and those living in poverty are more likely to live in an area where they are exposed to more poor air quality days. It is time that we take steps to address both environmental and structural inequalities that lead to these outcomes,” said Van Cleave. 

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 Erie-Meadville Metro Area
The 2-county Erie-Meadville metro area experienced zero unhealthy days of high ozone for the second consecutive time and its second time ever, again placing it among the nation’s cleanest cities for ozone smog. This is the result of Erie County earning its second “A” grade for ozone pollution, placing it among the nation’s cleanest counties. Crawford County does not have similar monitors collecting air quality data.

Particle Pollution in Erie-Meadville Metro Area
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. For the seventh 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.

Although last year’s “State of the Air” found that the year-round average of fine particle pollution in the metro area had improved to its best-ever for the fifth consecutive year, data with which to calculate an average for the 2019-2021 period were incomplete for this year’s report.  Last year’s ranking was 137th most polluted for year-round particle pollution out 202 metro areas. Erie County’s average values had been meeting the air quality standard. 

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.





 
For more information, contact:

Valerie Gleason
717-971-1123
[email protected]

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