Monday, June 8, 2009

Understand the State of Air in New York, American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report Cites New York’s Poor Air Quality

(An interactive map, showing air quality data by county, finds 22 out of the 33 counties with air-quality monitors received failing grades).

On April 28, the American Lung Association released its 10th annual State of the Air report. According to the report, more than 12.5 million New Yorkers - a stunning 65 percent of the state’s residents - live in counties where air pollution levels endanger lives.

Applying new, stricter federal standards, the report found that New Yorkers are breathing in dangerously high levels of both particulate matter and ozone. And this is particularly troublesome for the 1.6 million New Yorkers who suffer from asthma, as ozone and particle pollution are to blame for many of these respiratory conditions. American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report Cites New York’s Poor Air Quality.

New York City ranks 17th on the top-25 list of most polluted U.S. cities by ozone; 16th on the top-25 list of cities most polluted by short-term particle pollution; and 22nd on the top-25 list of cities most polluted by year-round particle pollution.

Breathing in high levels of ozone could injure your lungs like sunburn and could lead to coughing and asthma attacks; in severe cases, high levels of ozone could send people to the emergency room or even lead to premature death.

Particle pollution, on the other hand, involves microscopic solids – such as tiny bits of dust or soot. These microscopic particles are 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair and can penetrate the body’s natural defense systems. When inhaled, these tiny particles get trapped in the lungs’ deepest parts. The effect of particle pollution is like rubbing sandpaper on the lungs’ tissue. Research proves that people with chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, are at an increased risk of death when particle pollution is high.

Please spread the word to your friends and family on how everyone can help make New York’s air healthier by making simple changes to transportation habits. The American Lung Association in New York works closely with Clean Air NY to educate the public on how to improve air quality in the metro New York area. To learn more, visit

We know that air quality is not going to improve on its own, so the American Lung Association in New York, along with Clean Air NY, will continue fighting for air. Hopefully, all of New York will someday receive an A for air quality.

Guest blogger: Michael Seilback, Vice President, Public Policy & Communications, American Lung Association in New York.

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