Report: Air quality in Connecticut is better, but still not great
Published 11:39 am, Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Good news: Fairfield County is no longer one of the 25 worst counties in the country for ozone pollution. It now ranks 29th.
That's according to the American Lung Association's State of the Air 2013 report which ranks the nation's counties and metro areas based on pollution levels.
The report, which used data from 2009 through 2011, found air quality in general has improved since last year's report, due to tougher regulations on many potential pollution sources. For instance, the transition to cleaner diesel fuels and engines has contributed to lower year-round levels of particle pollution, which is a cocktail of soot, ash, diesel exhaust and other substances. Progress is still needed, experts said.
"The air is not clean enough," said Janice Nolen, the lung association's assistant vice president of national policy and advocacy, and lead author of State of the Air.
Despite some improvements "these grades are still not grades that any parent would brag about," said Jeff Seyler, president and chief executive officer of the American Lung Association of the Northeast.
In Connecticut, for example, Fairfield County received an "F" for ozone pollution, despite rising above the ranks of worst ozone offenders. It remains the worst county in the state for ozone, a pollutant created by the reaction of sunlight with emissions from vehicles and other sources.
New Haven and New London counties experienced slightly higher levels of ozone than in the report made last year. On the upside, no county had worse levels of particle pollution than in last year's report, while Litchfield County tied for 22nd on the list of the cleanest counties for annual particle pollution.
In the metro area rankings, the New York-Newark-Bridgeport region was named the 17th worst region for ozone pollution -- though its levels were less than in last year's report.
The fact that Connecticut and many other states still struggle with air quality is worrisome, experts said, as ozone and particle pollution can carry serious health risks including coughs, asthma and, in some cases, premature death.
"The bottom line is, air pollution makes us sick," Seyler said.
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