Gwinnett County Gets ‘F’ In Air Quality Grade For Ozone

GWINNETT COUNTY, GA – A new air quality report has determined that Gwinnett County has some of the highest levels of air pollution. The American Lung Association released its "State of the Air 2018" report Wednesday and concluded that ozone pollution overall worsened significantly in America from 2014-2016 compared to its previous report, which looked at 2013-2015.

Many cities had more days when ground-level ozone — known as "smog" — reached unhealthy levels, the report said.

But it wasn’t all bad news. Most cities reduced their "burden of year-round particle pollution," the report said. Also, fewer cities suffered from more spikes in particle pollution, known as "soot."

When it comes to the number of poor ozone days in Gwinnett County, the county received an "F" or failing grade. Many counties across the country received either an INC grade — meaning there was incomplete monitoring data — or a DNC grade, indicating there was no monitor collecting data.

More than 40 percent of Americans live in counties with an unhealthy level of either smog or soot, the study said. California had many cities with the most air pollution.

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Eight of the 10 smoggiest cities and eight of the 10 most soot-ridden cities reside in the Golden State. Among these were Los Angeles, Fresno, Bakersfield and Visalia.

"Los Angeles remains the city with the worst ozone pollution as it has for nearly the entire history of the report," the authors wrote.

For the first time, Fairbanks, Alaska, ranked as one of the most polluted for year-round soot levels, while Bakersfield maintained its badge of shame as the city with the worst short-term soot levels.

The study used the latest quality-assured data available and examined soot levels in two ways: averaged year-round and over short-term levels, defined as 24 hours. The analysis also used a weighted average number of days. Click here to read the full methodology.

The authors emphasized the need to keep the Clean Air Act intact, funded and enforced — something some lawmakers have targeted for repeal. The study says the number of people exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution increased to nearly 134 million people, up from 125 million in their previous report.
Furthermore, the authors said climate change contributed to worsening smog levels, particularly with record-setting heat.

"The spike in ozone demonstrates the public health impact of increased temperatures from the changing climate on the nation’s air quality," the report said. "With 2016 marking the second warmest year on record, the higher temperatures provided fuel to increase the formation of ozone from the still under-controlled emissions of the precursor emissions."

Ozone and particle pollution are associated with premature death, developmental harm, reproductive harm, lung cancer and heart damage, the ALA says.

Patch reporter Dan Hampton contributed to this report.
Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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