New Report: Greater Kansas City’s Air Improving for Ozone Pollution

Jackson County, MO, Johnson County, KS make cleanest counties lists

This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that the greater Kansas City area’s rankings improved slightly for one of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: ozone. The metro experienced fewer high ozone days in the period 2017 to 2019.  In addition, Jackson County, MO made the list of cleanest counties for short-term particle pollution. Johnson County, KS made that list as well as the list of the cleanest counties for ozone pollution. See the full report at Lung.org/sota.

“While the metro saw some improvement in ozone pollution, there are areas in which we lost some ground,” said Sara Prem of the American Lung Association in Kansas and Greater Kansas City. “We had slightly worse measurements for year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution,” she added. As the nation and our community continues to respond to the pandemic, reducing air pollution is critical for respiratory health now and in the future. New research shows that exposure to elevated levels of air pollution is linked to worse health outcomes from COVID-19, including more deaths. 

Rankings 2021
Overall, the metro area’s ranking among cities in the U.S. remained the same or worsened. The metro area which includes Kansas City, Missouri and Overland Park, KS rankings are:

•    48th among cities most polluted by ozone. The metro had fewer ozone pollution days but the ranking remained the same as the 2020 report.
•    42nd among cities most polluted for year-round particle pollution. This is slight worse than the 2020 ranking, which was 49th however the metro still meets the national air quality standards.
•    57th among cities most polluted for short-term particle pollution. The city ranked 84th in 2020.
 
The year’s report found that nationwide, more than 4 in 10 people (135 million) lived with polluted air, placing t-heir health and lives at risk. In the Kansas City metropolitan area, air pollution places the health of residents at greater risk including children and adults with a lung disease such as asthma and COPD. 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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