Vermont Business Magazine Vermont is among the least air polluted places in the nation and Burlington is one of the cleanest cities, ranking 17th overall. The American Lung Association’s 2017 “State of the Air” report released Wednesday found that all reporting counties in Vermont sustained average to above average grades for both ozone and particle pollution, two of the most common forms of hazardous air pollution. The data for the 2017 ‘State of the Air’ Report shows that Vermont counties continued to decrease already low ozone days, while Rutland county did see its high particle pollution days increase from 3 to 6. While not enough to change its passing grade for particle pollution, the Lung Association warns that the increase is not insignificant.
“The results of the 2017 “State of the Air” report in Vermont are proof that the legislative and regulatory action pursued by the Lung Association – on both state and federal levels - has been working. It also illustrates the danger we face if we back track on that progress, by dismantling vital health focused laws,” said Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “According to the 2017 ‘State of the Air,’ the progress we’ve made has still left residents of Rutland County to breathe unhealthful levels of particle pollution on too many days, putting them at risk for serious health effects such as asthma attacks, or cardiovascular harm. We must ensure we are improving our air quality not worsening it.”
The most notable national findings of the 18th annual report were lower overall ozone levels and lower year-round particle levels, offset by a continued trend of extreme short-term spikes in particle pollution, often related to wildfires or droughts. The report finds that the health of 43 million people across the country is at risk from these dangerous spikes in particle pollution.
With national trends moving towards improved overall air quality, the Burlington-South Burlington metro area was a highlight of the national report. It was included on all three of the “Cleanest Cities” lists. This means they had no unhealthy days for ozone or particle pollution for all three years of the report (2013-2015) and they had one of the 25 lowest levels of annual particle pollution.
Each year the “State of the Air” reports on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution (smog) and particle pollution (soot). The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution. Both ozone and particle pollution are dangerous to public health and can be lethal. But the trends reported in this year’s report, which covers data collected by states, cities, counties, tribes and federal agencies in 2013-2015, are strikingly different for these pollutants, nationwide, and in the Northeast.
Populations At Risk, Vermont Counties
|County||Total Pop||Under 18||65 & Over||Pediatric Asthma||Adult Asthma||COPD||Lung Cancer||CV Disease||Diabetes||Poverty Estimate|
Nationwide, ozone pollution has decreased, thanks to the Clean Air Act’s success at cleaning up major sources of the emissions that create ozone, especially coal-fired power plants and vehicles. However, research shows that climate change causes warmer temperatures, which makes ozone harder to clean up.
“Vermonters have directly benefited from the reduction in ozone, however, as national elected leaders debate how to treat issues like climate change and public health, we fear there is a real risk of cutting our progress short,” said Rebecca Ryan, Senior Director of Health Education and Public Policy in Vermont for the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “The same goes for particle pollution. While cities like Burlington are experiencing improved levels of particle pollution – we should not take it for granted. Across the country, year-round particle pollution levels have dropped thanks to the cleanup of coal-fired power plants and the retirement of old, dirty diesel engines – and if we see a resurgence in those outdated technologies, Vermont could easily trend the other way. In addition, local sources of pollution like emissions from wood burning and motor vehicles, outside the areas of the state where monitoring takes place, aren’t captured in this data. Every Vermonter can contribute to improving the air we breathe.”
Nationwide, the best progress in this year’s report came in reducing year-round levels of particle pollution.
Particle pollution is made of soot or tiny particles that come from coal-fired power plants, diesel engines, wildfires and wood-burning devices. These particles are so small that they can lodge deep in the lungs and trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes. They can even cause lung cancer, and early death.
|Cleanest U.S. Cities for Ozone Air Pollution||Top 25 Cleanest U.S. Cities for Year-round Particle Pollution||Cleanest U.S. Cities for Short-term Particle Pollution|
“Healthy air protections are under attack, and must be defended to save lives here and across the country. Air travels from one state to another, so only federal protections can help protect the air we all breathe,” said Seyler. “The Lung Association in Vermont calls on President Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and members of Congress to fully fund, implement and enforce the Clean Air Act for all air pollutants – including those that drive climate change and make it harder to ensure healthy air for all Americans.
Learn more about Vermont rankings, as well as air quality across the nation in the 2017 “State of the Air” report at Lung.org/sota. For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health and healthy air, contact Jennifer Solomon at the American Lung Association of the Northeast at Jennifer.Solomon@lung.org.
About the American Lung Association of the Northeast
The American Lung Association of the Northeast is part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S. Established in 1904 to combat tuberculosis; our mission today is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The focus is on air quality, asthma, tobacco control, and all lung disease. The American Lung Association in the Northeast serves CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI and VT. Lung.org
Source: Burlington, VT [April 19, 2017] – The American Lung Association