SPRINGFIELD, IL | April 20, 2022
The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released today by the American Lung Association, finds that Illinois’ rankings improved for some of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone. Several cities, including Bloomington, Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, Jacksonville, Lincoln, and Springfield were some of cleanest cities in the U.S. for particles; Quincy was the one of the cleanest cities for ozone.
“The levels of ozone seen in Madison County can harm the health of all of our residents, but particularly at risk are children, older adults, pregnant people and those living with chronic disease,” said Kristina Hamilton, advocacy director for the Lung Association. “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. Fortunately, some counties, like Adams, Sangamon, and Peoria did see an improvement in the levels of ozone pollution.”
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.
Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Madison County
Compared to the 2021 report, Madison County experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report; however, levels remained at an unhealthy level. The area still received an “F” grade for ozone pollution, which is unchanged from last year. The city of Chicago tied for 16th for most-polluted cities in the nation for ozone.
Particle Pollution in Peoria County
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Peoria County’s short-term particle pollution got worse in this year’s report, which means there were more unhealthy days. The 2022 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in Madison and St. Clair counties were slightly higher than in last year’s report. Chicago ranked 22nd in the nation for most-polluted cities for annual particle pollution.
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 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.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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