This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that Fairbanks takes the top spot for short-term pollution, recording the most ever unhealthy days for particle pollution (PM 2.5). See the full report at Lung.org/sota.
“Major wildfires in 2019 contributed to Fairbanks being ranked as the most polluted city for short-term particle pollution,” said Carrie Nyssen, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association. “People in Fairbanks now experience poor air quality days in the summer as well as winter months. Poor air quality can harm the health of all residents. Our children, older adults and people living with lung disease are particularly vulnerable to the health risks of air pollution. We must do more do protect our health.”
Ozone Pollution in Alaska
The Denali Borough and Fairbanks North Star Borough received “A” grades for ozone pollution. No other borough received a grade due to either incomplete data or uncollected data.
Particle Pollution in Alaska
“State of the Air” 2021 found that year-round particle pollution levels in Fairbanks were higher than last year’s report - again earning the sixth most polluted spot in this category. The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. The report found that Fairbanks recorded the highest ever levels of unhealthy days for the third straight report; three hazardous ‘maroon’ days were recorded in this report.
Anchorage Borough also received an “F” grade for short-term particle pollution. Mat-Su received a “D” grade and Juneau City and Borough received a “C.”
The 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. The report also shows that people of color were 61% more likely to live in a county with unhealthy air than white people, and three times more likely to live in a county that failed all three air quality grades. The report also finds that climate change made air quality worse and harder to clean up.
The Lung Association’s annual air quality “report card” tracks and grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of particle pollution (also known as soot) and ozone (smog) over a three-year period – this year’s report covers 2017-2019. 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 Lung.org/sota and sign the petition to urge the Biden Administration to promote clean air, a safe climate and environmental justice.
About the American Lung Association
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 Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.