By averaging 12.4 annually from 2013-2015, Cuyahoga County was given a failing grade. "While the 2017 "State of the Air" report found that 40% of Americans, nationwide, still live with unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution placing their health at risk - that percentage is more than doubled here, resulting in the overwhelming majority of CT residents breathing in harmful air".
One day of unhealthy air each year might not sound bad, Stewart said, but it can be enough to cause problems for people in sensitive groups. In Hillsborough County, the number of unhealthy ozone days dropped from eight to four. "Cleaner power plants, cleaner vehicles and cleaner diesel engines are all requirements of the Clean Air Act that are driving pollution reductions". It can be solid particles, liquid droplets, or a combination of the two.
Fine particles are all around us.
The particles are incredibly small. "So, all these particles when they come down we breathe them and they get lodged in our blood system and in our lungs", Lugo said. It can bypass a lot of the lungs' natural mechanisms for keeping themselves clean. Short-term particle spikes can be extremely unsafe and even lethal.
Almost four in 10 Americans now live in counties that have unhealthful levels of ozone, particle pollution or both. Everyone has a fundamental right to breathe healthy air.
According to the report, Fairfield County, Connecticut, has the worst smog levels in the region.
"Consequently, some counties will receive grades of "F" in this report, showing repeated instances of unhealthy air, while still meeting the EPA's 2015 ozone standard". New Haven County ranks #35 and Middlesex County ranks #39.
In addition to Los Angeles, 10 of the 25 cities most polluted by ozone reported their fewest high-ozone days. "We must protect it", she said. Natural gas power plants have displaced some coal power plants. "You don't want to be breathing it", said Stewart.
The report focuses on ozone and particle pollution, as they are the most widespread forms of air pollution threatening public health.
By comparison, three counties in Georgia and one county in North Carolina received a grade of "F" for having a high number of unhealthy ozone days during that time. The American Lung Association says particle pollution can affect the lungs and bloodstream, leading to asthma and heart attacks, lung cancer and even premature death.
"It's more likely that someone with asthma might end up in the emergency room, might need more medication, might need to see their doctor", Stewart said. Bakersfield, Calif., still has the highest short-term particle pollution, while the Visalia-Porterville-Hanford area in California rose to the worst annual particle pollution. "And we are trying to do everything we can to reduce that". "So, it's not really a surprise that the long term numbers have gone down", said Stewart.
Federal standards are only part of the reason North Carolina's air has improved in recent years.
"That's because the Clean Air Act has helped clean up sources such as cars, trucks, industries and that's something that still needs to happen in other areas of the country", said Stewart.