New Report: Vermont Remains Among the Cleanest Cities for Air Quality

Burlington metro area is one of only 10 cities nationwide named on all three cleanest cities lists for ozone, short-term and long-term particle pollution

The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released today by the American Lung Association, finds that Vermont’s remains one of the cleanest cities for air quality, with some of the lowest levels of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone. The Burlington-South Burlington metro area was one of only 10 cities in the nation to rank as a cleanest city for all three measured pollutants. 

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.

“High levels of ozone and particle pollution can harm the health of anyone, 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 Trevor Summerfield, director of advocacy for the Lung Association in Vermont. “Fortunately, Vermont continues to be one of the best places to live when it comes to these pollutants."

Ground-level Ozone Pollution 
Compared to the 2021 report, Chittenden, Rutland and Bennington counties by maintained their grades from last year’s report (A, A and B respectively). Bennington experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” consistently ranks Burlington-South Burlington metro area as one of the least polluted cities for ozone pollution. 

Particle Pollution 
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. All three reporting counties maintained A grades for short-term particle pollution, while the Burlington metro area, as a whole, experienced slightly less short-term particle pollution in this year’s report, which means there were fewer unhealthy days. The 2022 “State of the Air” found that all three Vermont counties  continued to meet the national standard for year-round particle pollution, despite reporting slightly worsened levels. The year-round particle pollution levels in Burlington were slightly higher than in last year’s report as well. The area was ranked 25th cleanest for year-round particle pollution compared to the ranking of 19 last year. 

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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