DC area earns failing grade for air quality due to smog

The greater Los‚ÄČAngeles area has the worst ozone problem in the nation but the number of unhealthful days is on a declining trend with 2015 the best year so far

"We are seeing tremendous improvements in ozone in Los Angeles, primarily due to the Clean Air Act", ALA Healthy Air Campaign spokesperson Lyndsay Moseley Alexander told MedPage Today.

Nationally, the number of people exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution dropped to more than 125 million people, from 166 million in the years covered in the 2016 report (2012-2014), according to the Lung Association.

The report also measures ozone levels.

"Those individuals can experience health problems ranging all the way from shortness of breath, pain when breathing deeply, or asthma attacks". The metro area was also listed as one of the nation's cleanest cities in short-term spikes of particle pollution, often called soot. That's the best rate the county has ever had recorded.

Locally, improvements were shown in ozone grades, with Mahoning County receiving a "B" and Trumbull getting a "C".

La Crosse, Onalaska, Houston County, Minn., and the immediate surrounding areas are included in that A ranking on the Air Quality Index by virtue of their butting boundaries, according to the findings, released Wednesday.

Almost four in 10 people live in a city where pollution levels are too unsafe to breathe.

Parts of southern Pennsylvania are closer to the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area and western parts of the state get air coming from the Ohio Valley; but the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area's relative isolation helps keep its air clean, said Kevin Stewart, the association's mid-Atlantic environmental health director. They are referring to the Trump administration's proposal to cut 31 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency's budget and "discontinue funding for the Clean Power Plan, worldwide climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs". "To be more specific, 56% of those poor air quality days in Butte-Silver Bow are attributed to wildfire impacts and the percentage is even greater in Lewis and Clark County at 76%, Ravalli County at 68%, and Missoula County at 83%", explained Stephen Coe, a Senior Air Quality Engineer for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

"Actually, the problem occurs down in the Nipomo Mesa area as a result of fine particulate matter coming off the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area", Barrett said.

Residents of those counties account for 38.9 percent of the United States' population, ALA said. "In order to properly look at that, it requires looking at all of the different scales at which air pollution is generated and has an effect on health". The association said it was the most recent verified data available. "A passing grade past year of D. So, that's something that we still need to work on". It is also risky for cardiovascular harm, like heart disease and stroke and it causes lung cancer. "That's why the (American) Lung Association is pretty strict about awarding A (grades)", he said.

Mullally said regulations under the federal Clean Air Act shouldn't be relaxed. The region still leads the nation in unhealthy days for ozone pollution -122 days - followed by Bakersfield and the Fresno-Madera area.

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