State of the Air report gives Lane County a "C" grade

The Lung Association called on the Oregon Legislature to do more to counteract air pollution.

"Near record-setting heat from our changing climate has resulted in risky levels of ozone in many cities across the country, making ozone an urgent health threat for millions of Americans", Lung Association President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer said.

The 20-point programme shifts the onus of fighting air pollution to the state governments, emphasises on collection of authentic data on pollution sources, introduces monitoring of rural air pollution and a new institutional framework at the central and state levels to monitor air quality and take preventive steps.

"It has been likened to a sunburn on the lungs is what it feels like", said Kevin Stewart, Director of Environmental Health for the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic.

These levels have a significant impact on health: premature death, stroke, heart attack, lung disease, and pregnancy complications that include stillbirths and birth effects. Those conditions make air stagnant and produce pollution as particles from auto exhaust and fireplace smoke get into the air.

However, the Metro Detroit area saw some improvements, ranking 14th for particle pollution and 40th for ozone pollution, which is the lowest its ever been. "As we move to cleaner fuels, and reduce the use of fuels, it's a win-win for climate as well as air quality".

The number of people exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution increased to more than 133.9 million people during the period covered by the 2017 report (2013-2015). "We've seen in the last 45 years, as a result of this law we have seen a steady drop in air pollution emissions".

Most ground-level ozone pollution is created when nitrogen oxides react with volatile organic compounds in sunlight. The countries with the healthiest air were Australia, Brunei, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden and countries in the Pacific islands. The Portland/Vancouver/Salem area ranks 32nd. The Charleston-North Charleston metro is tied 38th for most polluted city for short-term particle days. The report further states that Indian and China could be experiencing a "double burden" due to combined exposure to outdoor air pollution and household air pollution.

  • Arturo Norris