Lung Association Report Reveals Mixed Results for Lancaster County Air Quality: Best-ever for Year-round Particle Pollution and Ozone Smog; Again Measured Worse and Failing Grade for Daily Particles

American Lung Association “State of the Air” Report reveals that residents faced more days high in unhealthy particle pollution, ranking metro area 28th worst in U.S.

The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released today by the American Lung Association, finds that the Lancaster metro area’s rankings all improved for some of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone.  Nevertheless, the metro area (Lancaster is its sole county) worsened again for the daily measure of fine particle pollution, earning a failing grade and ranking 28th worst in the country. 

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. See the full report at Lung.org/sota. 

“The levels of ozone and particle pollution seen in Lancaster 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. 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,” said Molly Pisciottano, Director of Advocacy for the Lung Association. “Fortunately, the area did see an improvement in both daily ozone smog and year-round fine particle pollution, matching the previous best ever recorded in the 2017 report for ozone and newly reaching the area’s best-ever average level of fine particles..” 

Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Lancaster County 

Compared to the 2021 report, Lancaster County experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” ranked Lancaster as the 77th most polluted metro area for ozone pollution, which is better compared to its ranking of 72nd in last year’s report. The county again received a “C” grade for ozone pollution. 

Particle Pollution in Lancaster County 

The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Lancaster County’s short-term particle pollution again got worse in this year’s report, which means there were more unhealthy days, again earning an “F” grade. The metro area ranked 28th worst for short-term particle pollution, better than last year’s 24th position because the increase in the number of areas in the western United States with high levels in this year’s report. 

In contrast, the 2022 “State of the Air” found that for its fourth consecutive year, long-term particle pollution levels in Lancaster improved to their best ever and were slightly better than in last year’s report. The area was ranked 42nd most polluted for year-round particle pollution, better than the ranking of 36th last year.  

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 American 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. 

Media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, clean air and threats to air quality can contact Val Gleason at [email protected] or 717-971-1123.

For more information, contact:

Valerie Gleason
717-971-1123
[email protected]

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