American Lung Association Report: New Hampshire’s Air Quality Worsens; 1 in 3 Nationwide Exposed to Unhealthy Air

American Lung Association 2023 “State of the Air” report highlights air quality in New Hampshire and across the nation
The American Lung Association found that several New Hampshire counties received worsened grades for short term particle pollution, according to the 2023 “State of the Air” report, released today. Nationally, the report found that nearly 120 million people, or more than one in three, in the U.S. live in counties that had unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

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.

“Here in New Hampshire 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 Lance Boucher, Assistant Vice President, State Public Policy for the Lung Association in New Hampshire. “However, all five New Hampshire counties with particle pollution data saw their grades drop.  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 a failing grade for all three measures. 

Ground-level Ozone Pollution in New Hampshire:
Compared to the 2022 report, Merrimack County experienced more unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report, causing its grade to go from an A last year, to a B this year. All other recording counties maintained their grades. 

Particle Pollution in New Hampshire
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. The counties of Belknap, Hillsborough, Rockingham, Cheshire and Grafton New Hampshire saw short-term particle pollution get worse in this year’s report,  which means there were more unhealthy days. Accordingly, all of those grades dropped from last year’s As to B grades in this year’s report. Both Cheshire and Grafton are part of the Hartford, Connecticut metro area, which was ranked the 100th most polluted city for short term particle pollution. 

The 2023 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in New Hampshire were slightly higher than in last year’s report, but remain within the national standard. 

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
For more information, contact:

Jennifer Solomon
(516) 680-8927
[email protected]

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