New Report: Indianapolis Air Improving

City experienced fewer unhealthy days of particle, ozone pollution

This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that Indianapolis rankings were improving for the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone, including the city’s best-ever ranking for short-term particle pollution. See the full report at Lung.org/sota.

“The good news is that Indianapolis residents are experiencing fewer unhealthy air days. But our annual particle pollution averages still rank us among the worst cities in the country. These elevated pollution levels place children, older adults, and people living with lung disease particularly at risk,” said Nick Torres, advocacy director for the American Lung Association in Indiana.

Ozone Pollution in Indianapolis
Compared to the 2020 report, Indianapolis experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. Unhealthy ozone days declined from an average of 4.3 from 2017-2019, down from 6.0 in last year’s report.

Particle Pollution in Indianapolis
“State of the Air” 2021 found that year-round particle pollution levels in Indianapolis increased in the period of 2017-2019, from 10.4 to 11.3 μg/m3. This marked the area’s first increase following 11 years of steady declines. The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. The report found that Indianapolis recorded slightly fewer days when short-term particle pollution reached unhealthy levels, down to 2.2 days compared to 2.8 days from 2016-2018. 

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 the Indianapolis metro area, annual particle pollution placed the health of nearly 2.5 million people 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 report also finds that climate change made air quality worse and harder to clean up.

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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