The air high quality courses within the Lehigh Valley present potential for enchancment in keeping with the nationwide scorecard
The air quality in the Lehigh Valley is still in need of improvement, according to the district in a national annual report published on Wednesday. One of the worst cities in the country for soot and alternatively one of the cleanest are both within a 90-minute drive.
The American Lung Association’s 2021 State of the Air report gave Lehigh and Northampton counties Bs, Cs, and Ds two types of air pollution – ground-level ozone and particulate matter, both of which can cause or worsen breathing problems.
Meanwhile, the town of Lancaster, 60 miles southwest of Allentown, has failed due to particulate matter caused by things like factory emissions, car exhaust, and fires. It and Pittsburgh were the only two subway areas east of the Mississippi to rank in the top 25 worst U.S. cities in this category based on 24-hour averages over three years.
The Scranton / Wilkes-Barre subway area, about 60 miles north of Allentown, was rated as one of the cleanest in its category over the same period.
The American Lung Association provided lehighvalleylive.com with a pre-copy of their 2021 report. The districts are rated according to a weighted average that takes into account the number of days with high levels of pollution and their severity from 2017 to 2019.
The three-year study period is designed to reduce the impact of weather anomalies or other factors, although they can still affect final grades. Possible changes in air quality due to temporarily reduced traffic during the pandemic standstills in 2020 are not included in this year’s report.
“The State of the Air 2021 report finds that despite some nationwide progress in eliminating air pollution, more than 40% of Americans – more than 135 million people – live in places with unhealthy ozone or particulate pollution,” he said Report says in one of its main findings. “The burden of living with unhealthy air is not shared equally. Colored people are more than three times more likely to breathe the most polluted air than whites. “
When ozone is high in the atmosphere, it can protect us from ultraviolet light. However, when ozone rests near the surface of the earth, it attacks the lungs after it is formed when gases from exhaust pipes and chimney pollution mix in the air and combine in hot, sunny conditions.
In the meantime, the particulate pollution can lodge deep in the lungs and cause breathing problems. Both pollutants could worsen the long-term effects of COVID-19 on survivors.
(Can’t see the map? Click here.)
Locally, when rated for ozone, Lehigh County received a C and Northampton County a D, with each letter receiving a grade from last year’s report. Counties in the south towards Philadelphia received an F.
Neighboring New Jersey counties were split: Warren County’s air quality was given a B for ozone, an improvement over the previous year; Hunterdon County failed again.
The New York-Newark subway area, which stretches from Connecticut to eastern Pennsylvania, was ranked the 14th worst ozone area in the country, followed by Philadelphia-Reading-Camden at 21.
(Can’t see the map? Click here.)
In terms of particulate pollution, Northampton County kept its B class from last year. Lehigh County fell from a B to a C.
In New Jersey, Warren County earned a B for particulate pollution compared to last year. Hunterdon County again surpassed this category.
Pittsburgh was the 16th worst metropolitan area in the country for short-term particulate pollution. Lancaster was 24th.
Lancaster County had a C last year. The reason the city and county scored high in 2021 is outside the scope of the American Lung Association’s report, but Kevin Stewart, the group’s director of environmental health, said weather conditions were about may have trapped pollution close to the ground for several days otherwise it would have dissolved high in the atmosphere.
(MORE: See last year’s air quality classes)
Among the cleanest subway areas in the country for ozone were the cities of Johnstown and Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Johnstown was named one of the cleanest cities for particulate pollution along with Erie and Scranton / Wilkes-Barre.
The cleanest places to live in the US? The closest area to the Lehigh Valley is Elmira-Corning, New York, about 130 miles northwest as the crow flies. The other cleanest cities are Burlington, Vermont; Charlottesville, Virginia; Honolulu; and Wilmington, North Carolina.
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Steve Novak can be reached at email@example.com.