The American Lung Association’s "State of the Air 2014" report reveals that Suffolk County has the worst ozone pollution in New York State.
The report released Monday shows that Suffolk County, Long Island’s only county with an ozone monitor, experienced more unhealthy days of high ozone (smog) and continued to have the worst ozone pollution in the state. Concurrently the Suffolk air count had zero days when short-term particle pollution reached unhealthy levels and was among the cleanest counties for particle pollution.
Suffolk’s year round particle pollution level was unchanged in spite of a trend seen across the nation of lower particle pollution levels. Nassau County data didn’t receive a grade in this year’s report as its data was inconclusive—and because they did not have an ozone monitor to effectively measure the air quality.
“The air in New York is certainly cleaner than when we started the ‘State of the Air’ report 15 years ago but we must act to protect this progress and build upon it if we are going to save lives and improve lung health,” said Michael Seilback, vice president of public policy and communications at the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We still have far too many people living in counties with failing grades and far too many people struggling to breathe. Stronger health standards for pollutants and cleanup sources of pollution are sorely needed to protect both our air quality and our health.”
Suffolk was among the nine counties in the state to receive an F for ozone. Five counties in the state (Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Oneida, Saratoga and Steuben) received A's for ozone with zero days with unhealthy levels of the pollutant.
All counties in New York received passing grades for both short-term and annual particle pollution and most counties had unchanged or improved annual levels compared with the 2013 report. Suffolk again had zero days with unhealthy levels of particle pollution and placed on the list of cleanest counties for short-term particle pollution. Other counties besides Suffolk to receive A’s for particle pollution in this year’s report were Chautauqua, Essex, Niagara, Onondaga, and Steuben. The Bronx has the worst short-term particle pollution in the state and Manhattan has the worst annual level of particle pollution.
Jeff Seyler, president & CEO of the American Lung Association said: “Warmer temperatures create a breeding ground for ozone pollution and climate change will make it even more challenging to protect human health. We call on Congress to not only uphold the Clean Air Act, but to ensure that the EPA and states have adequate funding to monitor and protect the public from air pollution. We simply can’t ignore the new threats that rising temperatures present.”
The State of the Air 2014 report found that more than more than 147 million people – more than half of all Americans-live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution. Those at greatest risk from air pollution include infants, children, older adults, anyone with lung diseases like asthma, people with heart disease or diabetes, people with low incomes and anyone who works or exercises outdoors.
Trend charts and rankings for metropolitan areas and county grades are available at www.stateoftheair.org.