American Lung Association Report: Providence, Rhode Island Receives First Ever Passing Grade for Ozone Pollution; 1 in 3 Nationwide Exposed to Unhealthy Air

American Lung Association 2023 “State of the Air” report highlights air quality across Massachusetts and across the nation
Providence’s air quality has seen improved levels of ozone pollution since last year’s report, according to the American Lung Association’s 2023 “State of the Air” report, which was released today. For the first time, the metro area received a passing grade for ozone pollution, under the current standard. The report also found several counties throughout the state of Rhode Island received improved grades for ozone pollution, while receiving worsened grades for particle pollution. 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 Rhode Island 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 Dan Fitzgerald, Director of Advocacy 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 Governor McKee and the General Assembly to continue to take action to ensure that everyone has clean air to breathe. The Lung Association calls on Rhode Island lawmakers to meet the benchmarks set forth by the Act on Climate, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure a transition to zero-emission transportation.”  

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 Providence
Compared to the 2022 report, the Providence metro area experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” ranked Providence as the 52nd most polluted city for ozone pollution, which is better compared to its ranking of 47 in last year’s report. Several counties also saw grades improve for ozone pollution, including Kent (from a D to a C), and Providence (from an F to a C),

Particle Pollution in Providence
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. Providence’s short-term particle pollution worsened in this year’s report, which means there were more unhealthy days. The area is tied for 95th most polluted for short-term particle pollution. Ten out of twelve counties in the metro area received B grades for short-term particle pollution this year after receiving A grades last year.

The 2023 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in Providence were slightly lower than in last year’s report. The area was ranked 96 most polluted for year-round particle pollution, better than the ranking of 86 last year. 

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.

 
For more information, contact:

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

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