Latest American Lung Association State Of The Air Report Finds Idaho Continues to Struggle with Unhealthy Air Pollution

Wildfires and climate change continue to impact the state’s air quality.

This year’s American Lung Association “State of the Air” report finds that Idaho’s air quality continues to suffer when it comes to the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone. The Coeur d’Alene Valley area air quality ties for 11th worst in the nation with the Spokane Valley’s air quality for short-term particle pollution.  Similarly, the Boise metropolitan area has high levels of both particle and ozone pollution.  Much of the poor air quality is caused by wildfires, which are increasing as a result of climate change.  See the full report at Lung.org/sota.

“The fact that the Boise metropolitan area ranks 33rd most polluted for short-term particle pollution, 66th most polluted for year-round particle pollution, and 51st most polluted for ozone should concern us all,” says Heather Kimmel, Boise-based Division Director of Health Promotion for the American Lung Association. ”The levels of ozone seen in the Boise area may harm the health of all our residents, and are especially dangerous for our children, older adults and people living with lung disease. While these levels are very slightly improved compared to last year’s report, more must be done to protect Idahoans’ health.”

The report tracks short-term spikes in particle pollution, as these can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Several areas in Idaho experienced increased periods of particle pollution spikes caused by events such as wildfires. “People in Idaho should know that we’re breathing unhealthy air, and much of this unhealthy air is driven by wildfires that are a result of climate change,” said Kimmel.  

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. In communities with high levels of air pollution in Idaho, pollution placed the health of over 810,000 residents at risk, including those who are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, such as older adults, children and people with a lung disease. 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.

For more information, contact:

Idaho Media Contact

[email protected]

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