Portsmouth, NH | April 20, 2021
This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that New Hampshire air quality showed some marked improvement for both ozone and year-round particle pollution. New Hampshire also has several counties within the Boston metro which was ranked among the cleanest cities for short-term particle pollution. Particle pollution and ozone pollution are two of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution. See the full report at Lung.org/sota.
“The most important take away from The American Lung Association’s 2021 “State of the Air” report for New Hampshire is that there is long term and gradual progress in the state, and a critical need to continue our work to improve air quality for New Hampshire residents,” said American Lung Association Senior Director for State Advocacy in New Hampshire Lance Boucher. “Now, our biggest challenge is complacency – because despite the progress made, there is a lot of work to be done. The report reinforced that people of color are significantly more likely to breathe polluted air. Our elected officials must continue to act boldly to recognize climate change, understand and move forward the cause of environmental justice, and acknowledge air pollution as a serious public health concern.”
Overall, the report reinforced the fact that emissions from factories, power plants, diesel- and gasoline-powered motor vehicles (cars and trucks) and equipment play a role in forming ozone and generating dangerous fine particle pollution. Together, with the rising temperatures due to climate change air quality in the United States is in danger of being degraded, and residents across the country are at an increased risk of air pollution harming health. In addition, Studies show that air pollution exposure is linked to greater risk of respiratory infections, including some evidence that suggests that exposure to air pollution may make people more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
The Lung Association has and will continue to support the region’s consideration of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) Program. In 2019, New Hampshire pulled out of the program citing increased gas prices. The Lung Association urges the State of New Hampshire to reconsider the TCI Program as a big, bold and necessary step forward for public health. The program is an important tool to reduce transportation pollution, improve air quality, reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change, improve health and invest in cleaner, faster and more reliable public transportation. It stands to make a significant impact throughout the state.
Notable County Grades on ozone:
- Belknap, Merrimack, and Coos counties by maintained A grades from last year’s report, while Grafton County maintained its C grade
- The following counties earned an improved grade on ozone: Hillsborough (C to B), Rockingham (D to C), and Cheshire (B to A) from the 2020 report to this year’s report
- All counties reported a decreased level of ozone, or maintain a reading of 0.
- All other counties did not collect this data
Notable county grades on particle pollution:
- All five reporting counties (Belknap, Hillsborough, Rockingham, Cheshire and Grafton) maintained A grades for short-term particle pollution
- All counties continued to meet the national standard for year-round particle pollution
- All five reporting counties reported improved levels of year-round particle pollution
- All other counties did not collect this data
Boucher continued, “We know that during the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the country are facing multiple threats to their lung health at once, including from unhealthy air pollution. It’s critical to keep looking at the state of our air quality and the things that impact it – like climate change and emissions. We simply must do more to protect and preserve everyone’s right to breathe clean, healthy air and protect themselves from harmful air pollution.”
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. The report shows that nationally people of color were 61% more likely to live in a county with unhealthy air, and three times more likely to live in a county that failed all three air quality grades. In just the New Hampshire counties that are included in this report, more than 240,000 residents are living with lung diseases like asthma, COPD and lung cancer, as well as heart disease. They are already at risk, making them more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.
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, 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. Media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, clean air and threats to air quality can contact Jennifer Solomon at [email protected] or 516-680-8927.
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, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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