Tampa Ranked 49th in Nation for Ozone Pollution; Report Reveals Nationwide Disparities for People of Color

American Lung Association 2023 “State of the Air” report highlights air quality in Tampa and across the Nation
The American Lung Association found that several Tampa area counties received passing grades for ozone and particle pollution, according to the 2023 “State of the Air” report, 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 Tampa 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 Ashley Lyerly, Senior Director of Advocacy for the American 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 Tampa
Compared to the 2022 report, Tampa experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” tie ranked Tampa as the 49th most polluted city for ozone pollution, compared to its tied ranking of 52nd in last year’s report. Hillsborough County received a “D” grade, no longer failing, for ozone pollution.

Particle Pollution in Tampa
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. Tampa’s short-term particle pollution remained the same in this year’s report. The area is tie ranked 118th worst for short-term particle pollution. Hillsborough County received an “B” grade for short-term particle pollution. Pinellas County continues to rank among the Nation’s cleanest counties, earning its seventh consecutive “A” grade.

The 2023 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in Tampa remained the same as last year’s report. The area was tie ranked 129th most polluted with no change for year-round particle pollution, and a tie ranking of 118th last year.

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.

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