The American Lung Association's "State of the Air 2017" report released this April shows mixed results for Ohio.
All cities in Ohio continue to show progress with reducing air pollution, especially in year-round particle pollution and ozone. Cincinnati and Columbus had their best ever reports as they reached their fewest high ozone and particle pollution days and lowest year-round particle levels.
All major cities had fewer unhealthy ozone days. Every city hit its lowest level for ozone.
The results for short-term particle pollution shows overall improvement but more mixed results. Dayton had more unhealthy days for short-term particle pollution. While the report found continued improvement in air quality across Ohio, many residents still live with unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution placing their health at risk, according to Ken Fletcher, Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in Ohio.
Each year the "State of the Air" reports on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution and particle pollution.
The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution. Fletcher said both ozone and particle pollution are dangerous to public health and can be lethal.
Ozone, known as smog, is the most widespread air pollutant. It is created by the reaction of sunlight on emissions from vehicles and other sources. When ozone is inhaled, it irritates the lungs. It can cause immediate health problems and continue days later. Ozone can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and premature death.
Particle pollution levels can spike dangerously for hours to weeks on end or remain at unhealthy levels on average every day. Particle pollution can penetrate deep into the lungs and even into the bloodstream, leading to premature deaths, asthma attacks and heart attacks, as well as lung cancer.
"The 2017 'State of the Air' report finds unhealthful levels of ozone 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," said Fletcher. "However, research shows that climate change causes warmer temperatures, which makes ozone harder to clean up."
"Healthy air protections are under attack and must be defended to save lives here and across the county. Air travels from one state to another, so only federal protections can help protect the air we all breathe," added Fletcher.