New Report: Hartford Metro Area and Fairfield County Remain on “Most Polluted Cities” Lists for Unhealthy Levels of Air Pollution

American Lung Association “State of the Air” Report reveals that residents faced fewer high ozone days, but more particle pollution

The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released today by the American Lung Association, finds that Connecticut’s grades were improved for ozone, but that three counties experienced higher long term particle pollution compared to last year’s report. While ozone air quality in Hartford-East Hartford metro area improved enough for it to leave the worst-25 list, Fairfield County remains one of the most polluted counties in the nation. Ozone and particle pollution are two of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution.

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

“The levels of particle pollution and ozone seen in areas of Connecticut can harm the health of all of our residents, 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 Ruth Canovi, director of advocacy for the Lung Association in Connecticut. “Although the area did see an improvement in the levels of ozone pollution, Connecticut – and particularly Fairfield County - still has a long way to go towards cleaning up the air we breathe.”

Ground-level Ozone Pollution:

Compared to the 2021 report, the Hartford-East Hartford metro area experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” ranked Hartford as the 26th most polluted city for ozone pollution, which is slightly better compared to their ranking of 24 in last year’s report.

County grades on Ozone:

  • Fairfield County remains the most polluted County in the New York-Newark metro area, and has the highest ozone readings in the eastern US. with 18.8 days of unhealthful levels of ozone. This is the county’s best reading in any State of the Air report to date.
  • Middlesex, New London, Fairfield and New Haven maintained F grades. Litchfield maintained its C grade. 
  • All counties reported improved levels of ozone, with the exception of New Haven which remained the same.  Few recorded a change significant enough to change their grades.

Particle Pollution:

The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Hartford’s short-term particle pollution remains excellent in this year’s report, which means there were zero unhealthy days. The area is ranked among the cleanest for short-term particle pollution. The 2022 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in Hartford were slightly higher than in last year’s report.

County Grades on Particle Pollution:

  • Fairfield is the only county that earned a worse grade for short term particle pollution
  • Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven all recorded more long term particle pollution this year, compared to last years report.
  • All counties continued to meet the national standard for year-round particle pollution.

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

Media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, clean air and threats to air quality can contact Jennifer Solomon at 516-680-8927 or [email protected]

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Solomon
(516) 680-8927
[email protected]

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