New Report Reveals Mixed Results for Harrisburg-York-Lebanon Metro Area Air Quality: Residents Exposed to Worse Unhealthy Air for Both Daily and Year-Round Measures of Fine Particle Pollution

American Lung Association “State of the Air” Report reveals that residents faced most days of poor air quality in past four reports for fine particle pollution.

The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released today by the American Lung Association, finds that the 6-county Harrisburg-York-Lebanon metro area rankings remained poor for both daily and year-round measures of fine particle pollution, but ranking was moderate for ozone smog.  These are some of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution. The metro area’s worst ranking was for daily spikes in fine particle pollution at 43rd worst in the country out of 221 metro areas ranked.  

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 particle pollution seen in the Harrisburg-York-Lebanon metro area 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 Molly Pisciottano, Advocacy Director for the Lung Association. “Fortunately, the area did see continued posting of its best-ever results for the levels of ozone smog.” 

Ground-level Ozone Pollution in the Harrisburg-York-Lebanon Metro Area  

Compared to the 2021 report, the Harrisburg-York-Lebanon metro area experienced the same small number of unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” ranked the Harrisburg metro area as the 117th most polluted city for ozone pollution, which is comparable to its ranking of 119th worst in last year’s report. Adams County was the sole county in the metro area with the highest weighted average number of unhealthy days for ozone, again reporting the metro area’s fewest days ever of 0.7 days (as both Adams and Lebanon County had done in last year’s report), and earning a “B” grade. 

Particle Pollution in the Harrisburg-York-Lebanon metro area 

The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. The Harrisburg-York-Lebanon metro area’s short-term particle pollution worsened for a second year in a row in this year’s report, which means there were again more unhealthy days. Dauphin County overtook Cumberland County for the worst performance for daily particle pollution in the metro area with a weighted average of 2.5 days (a “D” grade) in this year’s report. The area is ranked 43rd worst for short-term particle pollution, having been in 42nd place last year.  

The 2022 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in the area were very slightly worse than in last year’s report, but still continued to meet the national air quality standard. York County continued as the worst performing county in the metro area, which was ranked 44th most polluted for year-round particle pollution, worse than its ranking of 56th worst last year.  

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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