JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – (April 27, 2011)
People in Leon and Wakulla Counties continue to breathe dangerous levels of air pollution, despite positive nationwide trends toward cleaner air, according to the American Lung Association’s annual report on air quality, State of the Air 2011, released today.
Highlights for the Tallahassee area in the State of the Air 2011 include the following:
Leon County received a “C” in ozone pollution, a “C” in short-term particle pollution and tied for fourth most polluted county in Florida for short-term particle pollution
Wakulla County received a “C” for ozone pollution
This year’s report showed that the Tallahassee area’s air quality remained at unhealthy levels, despite many cities across the nation seeing improvements in levels of ozone (smog) or year-round particle pollution (soot). Leon and Wakulla Counties’ best opportunity for progress depends on the continued cleanup of deadly pollution required by the Clean Air Act.
“It is imperative that we continue to strengthen the Clean Air Act in order to address the dangerous levels of smog and particle pollution that threaten Tallahassee and other communities across the state,” said Martha Bogdan, president and CEO of the American Lung Association in Florida. “The American Lung Association is committed to fighting for healthier air and to finding ways to clean up air pollution so every Floridian can breathe easier.”
The air quality report also reveals that just over half the nation—154.5 million people—lives in areas where levels of ozone and/or particle pollution are too often dangerous to breathe. Even though so many people live where bad air can make them sick, some members of Congress are proposing changes to the Clean Air Act that would interfere with efforts to reduce air pollution and protect public health. The American Lung Association released a bipartisan poll in February that showed Americans overwhelmingly support efforts for even tougher air quality standards and oppose Congressional action that interferes with the EPA’s ability to update clean air standards.
The State of the Air 2011 report grades cities and counties based, in part, on the color-coded Air Quality Index developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help alert the public to daily unhealthy air conditions. The 12th annual release of the Lung Association’s report uses the most recent EPA data collected from 2007 through 2009 from official monitors for ozone and particle pollution, the two most widespread types of air pollution. Ozone is the most widespread air pollutant, created by the reaction of sunlight on emissions from vehicles and other sources while particle pollution is a mix of chemicals, metals, acid aerosols, ash, soot and others pollutants from diesel exhaust and other sources.
“This report is a reminder that there is always more we can do to improve the air we breathe and both counties have a clear opportunity to raise their air pollution grades next year,” said Bogdan.
The American Lung Association in Florida urges the public to voice support for the EPA to continue protecting the air in every community by visiting www.lungaction.org and to learn how their communities rank in State of the Air 2011 by visiting www.stateoftheair.org. For the first time in the report’s history, people can compare findings for different metropolitan areas online.