‘State of the Air’ Report Reveals Springfield is One of the Cleanest Cities in the Nation

American Lung Association 2023 “State of the Air” report highlights air quality in Springfield and across the nation
Springfield was named one of the cleanest cities in the nation for ozone and short-term particle pollution, 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.

“Here in Springfield 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 Kristina Hamilton, 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. Given transportation sources are a leading cause of air pollution, we are calling on Governor Pritzker to implement Clean Trucks rules to ensure that everyone has cleaner 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 Springfield
Compared to the 2022 report, Springfield experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. With the improvement from a “B” to an “A” grade for Sangamon County, “State of the Air” now ranks Springfield among the Cleanest Cities in the nation with zero unhealthy ozone days reported. Even still, pollution from transportation sources like cars, buses and trucks is a large source of ozone-forming emissions and climate pollution in and around central Illinois. Despite experiencing fewer ozone days, Madison County earned an F grade for ozone and McLean, Jersey and St. Clair counties earned a C grade.

Particle Pollution in Springfield
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. Springfield has appeared on the list of the cleanest cities in America for the past five reports with zero unhealthy particle pollution days reported over that time period. Sangamon County earns an “A” grade for particle pollution.

The 2023 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in Springfield were lower than in last year’s report. The area was ranked 106th most polluted for year-round particle pollution, (better than the ranking of 88th 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.

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For more information, contact:

Janye Killelea
[email protected]

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