Scranton--Wilkes-Barre Metro Area Air Quality Best-ever for Third Year in a Row for All Three Pollutant Measures in New Lung Association Report

Metro Area One of Cleanest Cities in U.S. for Days with Unhealthy Levels of Particle Pollution

The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released today by the American Lung Association, finds that the three-county Scranton--Wilkes-Barre metro area rankings were among the best in the nation for some of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone. In addition to ranking among the cleanest in the nation for the daily measure of fine particles, the metro area again posted a new best-ever long-term measure of fine particle pollution, and repeated the same best-ever result for ozone reported last year. 

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 much of the country can harm the health of many people, as seen occasionally in the Scranton--Wilkes-Barre metro area for ozone, 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 metro area did see an improvement in the year-round levels of particle pollution and continued to earn an ‘A’ grade for the daily measure.” 

Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Scranton--Wilkes-Barre Metro Area 

Compared to the 2021 report, the Scranton--Wilkes-Barre metro area experienced the same number of unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report—again earning a “B” grade in Luzerne County, and repeating last year’s “A” grade in Lackawanna County. “State of the Air” ranked the metro area as the 138th most polluted city for ozone pollution, which is comparable to its ranking of 137th worst in last year’s report.  

Particle Pollution in Scranton--Wilkes-Barre Metro Area 

The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. For the seventh consecutive year, the Scranton--Wilkes-Barre metro area posted zero unhealthy days high in particle pollution. The Wyoming Valley area continues to place among the nation’s cleanest cities for fine particle pollution as Lackawanna County (the only county in the metro area with monitoring data) continued to earn an “A” grade for this measure. 

 

The 2022 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in the metro area continued their long-term trend of improvement and reached their best-ever value for the third straight year in the current report. The metro area was ranked 154th most polluted for year-round particle pollution, better than its ranking of 122nd worst in last year’s report.  

 

 

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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