New Report: Oklahoma’s Air Still Failing

Ozone levels steady, while particle pollution a mixed bag

This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that Oklahoma’s rankings were mixed for the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone. Tulsa saw improvements across all metrics, while Oklahoma City saw higher levels of particle pollution See the full report at Lung.org/sota.

“Tracking these rates is important because unhealthy air impacts all Texans, especially children, those over 65, people with COPD, lung cancer or cardiovascular disease and people of color. Healthy people can also experience shortness of breath and coughing where air pollutants are high. As Oklahomans spend more time outdoors, these pollution levels put them at increasing levels of risk – more must be done to protect our health,” said Charlie Gagen, Director of Advocacy for the Lung Association.

Ozone Pollution in Oklahoma
Compared to the 2020 report, Oklahoma City had the same number of high ozone days, while the Tulsa area saw fewer unhealthy days, improving to a passing grade.

Particle Pollution in Oklahoma
“State of the Air” 2021 found that year-round particle pollution levels in Oklahoma were relatively unchanged from last year’s report and still meets the standard . The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. The report found that Oklahoma City had the same number of days, while Tulsa had fewer days when short-term particle pollution reached unhealthy levels. 

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 Oklahoma pollution placed the health 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 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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