Lung Association report calls region 80th most polluted metro area in nation

 The American Lung Association’s new “State of the Air 2013 <http://www.stateoftheair.org/> ” report released finds that the Youngstown-Warren-East Liverpool area ranked tied with Toledo as the 80th most polluted metro areas in the nation for ozone pollution during the most recent reporting time period. The ranking has improved greatly from tied for 61st in the 2012 report.  Mahoning County maintained its grade rating of C for ozone pollution.

Ozone (smog) is the most widespread air pollutant, created by the reaction of sunlight on emissions from vehicles and other sources. When ozone is inhaled, it irritates the lungs, like a bad sunburn. It can cause immediate health problems that continue days later. Ozone can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and premature death.

The Youngstown-Warren-East Liverpool area also tied with Toledo as the 79th most polluted cities for short-term particle pollution, receiving a grade of C.  Their annual particle pollution ranking was 47th in the nation.  The area did however “pass” the annual particle pollution standard for annual particle pollution adopted in December 2012.

Looking at air quality in 2009, 2010, and 2011, the Lung Association said it’s apparent that particle pollution levels can spike dangerously for hours to weeks on end (short-term) or remain at unhealthy levels on average every day (year-round).

“The air in the Youngstown area is certainly cleaner than when we started the ‘State of the Air’ report 14 years ago,” said Shelly Kiser, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Ohio.  “But the work is not done, and we must set stronger health standards for pollutants and cleanup sources of pollution in the Youngstown area to protect the health of our citizens.”

The report also states that there are currently more than 5,000 children living with asthma in Mahoning County. There is clear evidence that asthma is a condition which worsens significantly and becomes far more dangerous when air pollution increases.

Despite improvements, the “State of the Air 2013” report found that more than 131.8 million people in the U.S. still live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, which equates to more than 4 in 10 people (42 percent).

The American Lung Association report reveals that from 2009-2011, many places including the Youngstown area made strong progress compared to 2008-2010, particularly in lower year-round levels of particle pollution.  As a result of emissions reductions from coal-fired power plants and the transition to cleaner diesel fuels and engines, air quality is improving, especially in the eastern United States.

The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2013” report is an annual, national air quality “report card.” The 2013 report—the 14th annual release—uses the most recent quality assured air pollution data, compiled by the EPA, in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  These data come from the official monitors for the two most widespread types of pollution, ozone (smog) and particle pollution (PM 2.5, also known as soot). The report grades counties and ranks cities and counties based on their scores for ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution levels.

For more information on the American Lung Association’s report, visit http://www.stateoftheair.org <http://www.stateoftheair.org> . 

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