Kansas City Ranked 58 in Nation for Ozone Pollution; Report Reveals Nationwide Disparities for People of Color

American Lung Association 2023 “State of the Air” report highlights air quality in Kansas City and across the nation
Kansas City’s air quality has improved since last year’s report, according to the American Lung Association’s 2023 “State of the Air” report, which was released today.  The Lung Association’s 24th annual “State of the Air” report grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone air pollution, annual particle pollution and short-term spikes in particle pollution over a three-year period. This year’s report covers 2019-2021.

According to the 2023 report:

Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Kansas City
Compared to the 2022 report, Kansas City experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” ranked Kansas City as the 58th most polluted city for ozone pollution, which is better compared to its ranking of 48th in last year’s report. Clay County received a “C” grade for ozone pollution.

Particle Pollution in Kansas City – Short Term and Long Term
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. Kansas City’s short-term particle pollution got worse in this year’s report, which means there were more unhealthy days. The area is ranked 106th worst for short-term particle pollution. Wyandotte County received an “D” grade for short-term particle pollution.

However, the 2023 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in Kansas City were significantly lower than in last year’s report. The area was ranked 46th most polluted for year-round particle pollution, (better than the ranking of 88th last year).

“Here in Kansas City and across the nation, we are seeing ozone pollution improving, thanks in big part to the success of the Clean Air Act. But there is more work to do,” said Sara Prem, Advocacy Director for the Lung Association. “Even one poor air quality day is one too many for our residents at highest risk such as children, older adults, individuals who are pregnant and those living with chronic disease. That’s why we are calling on lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels to take action to ensure that everyone has clean air to breathe.”

Nationally, the report found that ozone pollution has generally improved across the nation, thanks in large part to the success of the Clean Air Act. However, more work remains to fully clean up harmful pollution, and short-term particle pollution continues to get worse. In addition, some communities bear a greater burden of air pollution. Out of the nearly 120 million people who live in areas with unhealthy air quality, a disproportionate number – more than 64 million (54%) – are people of color. In fact, people of color were 64% more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade for at least one measure, and 3.7 times as likely to live in a county with failing grades for all three measures.

The American Lung Association is calling on President Biden to urgently move forward on several measures to clean up air pollution nationwide, including new pollution limits on ozone and particle pollution and new measures to clean up power plants and vehicles. See the full report results and sign the petition at Lung.org/SOTA.

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For more information, contact:

Janye Killelea
[email protected]

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