New Report: State’s Air Quality Grades Average

Sioux Falls named ‘Cleanest City’ for both short and yearlong particulate pollution

This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that South Dakota’s rankings were generally average for the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution.  

The Lung Association’s annual air quality “report card” tracks and grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of particle pollution over a three-year period – this year’s report covers 2017-2019. The state’s 10 counties with air quality monitors scored mostly passing grades with the exception of Pennington County, which again earned a “D” for particle pollution. Brookings County received a “C” grade for ozone pollution, down from an “A” last year. Union County’s grade for particle pollution improved from last year’s report, moving from a “B” to an “A.”
Two South Dakota metropolitan areas were cited in the report’s “cleanest cities” list. Sioux Falls was noted for its low short-term and annual particle pollution, and Rapid City made the list of cities with no ozone pollution alerts during the three-year reporting period. The full report can be seen at

This 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. People of color were 61% more likely to live in a county with unhealthy air than white people. The report also finds that climate change made air quality worse and harder to clean up.

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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