New Report: New Hampshire’s Air Quality Gets Mixed Grades, Residents Exposed to More Unhealthy Particle Pollution

American Lung Association “State of the Air” Report reveals that residents experienced 2 improved grades for ozone, but more days with high particle pollution

The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released today by the American Lung Association, finds that New Hampshire grades were improved for ozone, but that three counties experienced higher long term particle pollution compared to last year’s report. These 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 Lung.org/sota.

“The increased levels of particle pollution seen in pockets of New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire. “Fortunately, the area did see an improvement in the levels of ozone.” 

Notable County Grades on ozone:

  • Belknap, Merrimack, Cheshire and Grafton counties maintained A grades from last year’s report, while Rockingham County maintained its C grade
  • Both Hillsborough and Coos counties earned improved grades on ozone from the 2021 report to this year’s report (Hillsborough went from B to A; and Coos from C to B)
  • All counties reported a decreased level of ozone, or maintain a reading of 0. 
  • All other counties did not collect this data

Notable county grades on particle pollution: 

  • Hillsborough, Rockingham and Cheshire all reported a worse level of year-round particle pollution; only Belknap county reported an improved level of year-round particle pollution
  • All counties continued to meet the national standard for year-round particle pollution
  • All five reporting counties (Belknap, Hillsborough, Rockingham, Cheshire and Grafton) maintained A grades for short-term particle pollution
  • All other counties did not collect this data

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]

For more information, contact:

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

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