New Report: Detroit’s Air Failing

F grade for ozone, worsened for particle pollution

This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that Detroit’s rankings were mixed for the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone. Ozone pollution has improved with fewer unhealthy days, but still received a failing grade. For particle pollution, the metro area posted more unhealthy days with daily spikes and slightly worsened for year-round particle pollution.

“Particle pollution can lodge deep in the lungs and can even enter the bloodstream. It can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes and cause lung cancer,” said Ken Fletcher, Director of Advocacy for the Lung Association in Michigan. Particle pollution comes from coal-fired power plants, diesel emissions, wildfires and wood-burning devices. “We all have the right to breathe clean, healthy air.  We must stand up for clean air, especially to safeguard our most vulnerable community members. Our leaders at all levels take action to ward off climate change and other threats to the quality of the air we all breathe.”

Ozone Pollution in Detroit
Compared to the 2020 report, Detroit again improved for its ozone pollution and ranked tied for 38th most polluted city of ozone in the nation. 

Particle Pollution in Detroit
“State of the Air” 2021 found that year-round particle pollution levels in Detroit were slightly higher than in last year’s report. The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. The report found that Detroit posted more unhealthy days for daily spikes as in last year’s report. 

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 Detroit, particle pollution placed the health of 981,706 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 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 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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