The newly released State of the Air report from the American Lung Association shows continuing concern for ozone pollution levels in the St. Louis area, but the region escaped being ranked among the top 25 most-polluted cities in the U.S.
As part of the report, the Clean Air Partnership issued a reminder to residents of the importance of staying informed about the quality of air, whether it is in a healthy “green” range, unhealthy “red” range, or somewhere in between. The Clean Air Partnership was formed in 1995, led by the American Lung Association, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Washington University and others, to increase awareness of regional air quality issues and to encourage activities to reduce air pollution emissions.
The number of people exposed to unhealthy air increased to nearly 141.1 million, rising from the 133.9 million in the years covered by the 2018 report (2014-2016). Many counties in the St. Louis metro area still had multiple days when the air quality was unhealthy.
Many cities across the nation saw an increased number of days when ground-level ozone reached unhealthy levels and particle pollution soared. Here’s a look at the latest rankings for ozone pollution across the region for counties in the non-attainment area included in the ALA report:
The report maintains that climate change will make cleanup of pollutants more challenging, ultimately making it harder to protect human health. Increased heat in 2017, the third-warmest year on record in the U.S., likely drove this increase in ozone as warmer temperatures stimulate the reactions in the atmosphere that cause ozone to form.
“As we prepare to settle into summer when we’re at greater risk for higher levels of ozone pollution in our region, it’s important to keep in mind children, older adults and those who suffer from lung diseases that make them especially vulnerable to poor air quality,” said Susannah Fuchs, director, Clean Air for the American Lung Association in Missouri.
The partnership urges commuters to help improve the overall quality of the air, working with employers, colleges, trade schools, municipalities and others on riding sharing programs, such as those offered in the area by RideFinders and Madison County Transit.
Visit Clean Air Partnership at www.cleanair-stlouis.com.