New Report: Maine Named One of the Cleanest States in New Lung Association Report, Despite an Increase of Particle PollutionAmerican Lung Association “State of the Air” Report reveals that Portland-Lewiston and Bangor metro area residents faced fewer days of poor air quality
AUGUSTA, ME | April 20, 2022
The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released today by the American Lung Association, finds that while Maine air remains some of the cleanest in the county, its counties and metro areas saw mixed progress for some of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone. Cumberland, Hancock, Knox and Washington counties all saw improved grades for ozone, while Aroonstook saw a lower grade for short term particle pollution, and the Portland-Lewiston metro area experienced slightly more long-term particle pollution than found in last year’s report.
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 Portland 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 Lance Boucher, Director of Advocacy for the Lung Association in Maine. “Fortunately, both the metro area and several other counties did see an improvement in the levels of ozone.”
Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Portland and Bangor
Compared to the 2021 report, Portland experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” ranked Portland as the 100th most polluted city for ozone pollution, which is better compared to their ranking of 92nd in last year’s report. The counties included in the metro area received 2 As and a C grade for ozone pollution. In Bangor, Penobscot County continued to show no unhealthy ozone days.
Particle Pollution in Portland
Th report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Portland’s short-term particle pollution stayed the same in this year’s report, which means there were zero unhealthy days. The area is ranked among the best for short-term particle pollution. The 2022 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in were significantly lower in Androscoggin, but slightly higher in Cumberland County. Overall, the area was ranked 133rd most polluted for year-round particle pollution – slightly worse than the ranking of 138 last year. Bangor ranked for the 13th consecutive year as one of the cleanest cities for short-term particle pollution with no unhealthy days, while ranking at 198th worst (5th best in the country) for year-round particle pollution.
Bangor is one of only 10 cities in the nation that ranked cleanest for ozone, short and long term 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 Lung.org/SOTA.
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]
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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