American Lung Association Report: Sioux Falls’ Air Quality Gets Worse; 1 in 3 Nationwide Exposed to Unhealthy Air

American Lung Association 2023 “State of the Air” report highlights air quality in Sioux Falls and across the nation
Sioux Falls’ air quality has gotten worse, and the metro area has dropped off the Cleanest Cities list since last year’s report, according to the American Lung Association’s 2023 “State of the Air” report, which was 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.

“As we can see from this year’s report data, there is still work to be done in Sioux Falls to improve our air quality,” said Molly Collins, 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, pregnant people 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.

Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Sioux Falls
Compared to the 2022 report, Sioux Falls experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” ranked Sioux Falls as the 111th most polluted city for ozone pollution, which is better compared to its ranking of 84th in last year’s report. Minnehaha County received a “B” grade for ozone pollution, better than the “C” grade last year.

Particle Pollution in Sioux Falls
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. Sioux Falls’ short-term particle pollution [got worse in this year’s report, which means there were more unhealthy days. The area had appeared on the cleanest cities list for particle pollution in last year’s report (with no unhealthy days) but is ranked 59th worst for short-term particle pollution. Minnehaha County received an “C” grade for short-term particle pollution. Western wildfires in 2021 played a part in the worsening grade as particles reached far across the nation and impacted air quality.

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
312-940-7624
[email protected]

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