‘State of the zone; Falls from Cleanest Cities List for 24-Hour PartAir’ Report Reveals That For First Time Ever Scranton--Wilkes Barres Metro Area Ranked One of Cleanest Cities for Oicle Pollution

The Scranton--Wilkes-Barre metro area was named one of the best cities in the nation for ozone pollution—improved yet again to its best ever—with fewer unhealthy air days than last year’s best, according to the American Lung Association’s 2023 “State of the Air” report, released today. However, the Wyoming Valley worsened for short term particle pollution with more unhealthy air days, now ranking 118th worst, after being listed on the cleanest cities list for the past seven years for the measure. Nationally, the report found that nearly 120 million people, or more than one in three, in the U.S. live in counties that had unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

The Lung Association’s 24th annual “State of the Air” report grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone air pollution, annual particle pollution and short-term spikes in particle pollution over a three-year period. This year’s report covers 2019-2021.
“Here in the Scranton--Wilkes-Barre metro area and across the nation, we are seeing ozone pollution improving, thanks in big part to the success of the Clean Air Act. But our short-term particle pollution worsened, leaving much work to be done for all measures to improve air quality” said Aimee Van Cleave, Director of Advocacy for the Lung Association. “Even one poor air quality day is one too many for our residents at highest risk, such as children, older adults, pregnant individuals and those living with chronic disease. That’s why we are calling on lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels to take action to ensure that everyone has clean air to breathe.”

Nationally, the report found that ozone pollution has generally improved across the nation, thanks in large part to the success of the Clean Air Act. However, more work remains to fully clean up harmful pollution, and short-term particle pollution continues to get worse. In addition, some communities bear a greater burden of air pollution. Out of the nearly 120 million people who live in areas with unhealthy air quality, a disproportionate number – more than 64 million (54%) – are people of color. In fact, people of color were 64% more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade for at least one measure, and 3.7 times as likely to live in a county with a failing grade for all three measures. 

Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Scranton--Wilkes-Barre Metro Area
The Wyoming Valley marked its best-ever performance with both Lackawanna and Luzerne counties reporting zero days (an A grade) with unhealthy levels of air pollution, placing the metro area among the cleanest cities in the nation for the first time ever under the current ozone standards. Luzerne County had reported the metro area’s previous lowest ever (earning a B grade) in the 2017-2019 and 2018-2020 reports.

Particle Pollution in Scranton—Scranton--Wilkes-Barre Metro Area
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. The Scranton--Wilkes-Barre metro area’s short-term particle pollution got worse in this year’s report, which means there were more unhealthy air days. The area is ranked 118th worst for short-term particle pollution, falling from its ranking on the cleanest cities list for the past seven years by earning a B grade for short-term particle pollution in this year’s report.

For its first grade ever posted, Lackawanna County posted a worse value for the metro area’s daily measure of particle pollution. Lackawanna went from its previous ‘A’ to a ‘B’ in this year’s report and Wyoming went from incomplete to the same measure, also earning a ‘B.’

For the 2023 “State of the Air” report, the metro area had incomplete data recorded for year-round particle pollution. In last year’s report, the metro area tied for 154th worst, marking its best level for the third consecutive year and meeting the national standard.

The American Lung Association is calling on President Biden to urgently move forward on several measures to clean up air pollution nationwide, including new pollution limits on ozone and particle pollution and new measures to clean up power plants and vehicles. See the full report results and sign the petition at Lung.org/SOTA.
For more information, contact:

Valerie Gleason
[email protected]

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