New Report: Ozone Pollution Still A Concern in Scott, Linn, and Polk Counties

The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2021” report shows that Scott, Linn, and Polk counties have ozone pollution is still a concern.  “Residents in these counties should be aware that we’re still breathing unhealthy air, mostly driven by vehicle emissions and extreme heat as a result of climate change, placing our health and lives at risk,” said Angela Tin, National Senior Director of Clean Air initiatives for the Lung Association. “In addition to challenges here in Iowa, the recent ‘State of the Air’ report highlights that nearly half of Americans live in counties that had unhealthy ozone or particle pollution in 2017-2019.”

Ozone Pollution in Scott County 
•    Grade: C
•    1.7 unhealthy ozone days

Ozone Pollution in Linn County 
•    Grade: C
•    1.3 unhealthy ozone days

Ozone Pollution in Polk County 
•    Grade: B
•    0.7 unhealthy ozone days

“Ozone pollution can harm even healthy people, but is particularly dangerous for children, older adults and people with lung diseases like COPD or asthma,” said Tin. “Breathing ozone-polluted air can trigger asthma attacks in both adults and children with asthma, which can land them in the doctor’s office or the emergency room. Ozone can even shorten people’s lives.” 

Particle Pollution

Short-term (24-hr) particle pollution
•    Grade: B (Scott)
•    Grade: A (Linn)
•    Grade: B (Polk)

Year-round (annual) particle pollution
•    Grade: Pass (Scott)
•    Grade: Pass (Linn)
•    Grade: Pass (Polk)

Both short term and annual particle pollution dropped to their lowest level slightly compared to last year’s report, and all levels were in compliance with the national standard.

Although this report does not cover monitoring data from 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of air pollution on lung health is of heightened concern. Learn more about that at Lung.org/covid-19.  In order to improve lung health to fight against this and future pandemics, alternative renewable fuels and improved engine technologies are important to reduce pollution from transportation sources.
The year’s report found that nationwide, more than 4 in 10 people (135 million) lived with polluted air, placing their health and lives at risk. In Scott (98,105), Linn (225,908), and Polk (487,204), counties, ozone pollution places the health of residents at risk, including those who are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, such as older adults, children and people with a lung disease. The report also shows that people of color were 61% more likely to live in a county with unhealthy air than white people, and three times more likely to live in a county that failed all three air quality grades. 

The Lung Association’s annual air quality “report card” tracks and grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of particle pollution (also known as soot) and ozone (smog) over a three-year period – this year’s report covers 2017-2019. The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: average annual levels and short-term spikes. Both ozone and particle pollution can cause premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks and cardiovascular damage and are linked to developmental and reproductive harm. Particle pollution can also cause lung cancer.

Learn more about “State of the Air” at Lung.org/sota and sign the petition for the Biden Administration to promote clean air, a safe climate and environmental justice.

For more information, contact:

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

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