American Lung Association State of the Air 2021 Report Finds Oregon Air Quality Remains at Unhealthy Levels

This year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association finds that seven Oregon counties receive failing “F” grades for one of the most harmful and widespread pollutants: particle pollution. See the full report at Lung.org/sota.

“Particle pollution is lethal. This pollution is made up of microscopic bits of soot, metals, and aerosols that tiny enough to inhale where they can trigger asthma attacks, cause lung cancer and damage lung tissue and airways, said Carrie Nyssen, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association. “These particles can harm everyone, and our children, older adults and people living with lung disease are particularly vulnerable and at risk. More can be done to protect our health.”

Ozone Pollution in Oregon
Compared to the 2020 report, most areas maintained the same number of days for ozone pollution as last year’s report. Clackamas County recorded the most ozone pollution in the metro area and received an F grade. Jackson County also received an F and two Oregon counties received D grades: Umatilla and Washington.

Particle Pollution in Oregon
Particle pollution continues to be the primary air pollutant in Oregon, largely due to wildfires and woodsmoke. “State of the Air” 2021 found that Klamath County ranked as the #9 most polluted county by annual particle pollution with the worst ever recordings. Both Klamath and Jackson counties received F grades in this category. 

The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Counties receiving “F” grades in this category include Crook, Harney, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake and Lane. Three Oregon cities appear on the Top 25 most polluted for short-term particle pollution: (15) Medford-Grants Pass, (19) Eugene-Springfield, and (23) Portland-Vancouver-Salem.

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.

For more information, contact:

Oregon Media Contact

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