WOWK 13 News

Tri-State receives ‘best-ever’ rating for ozone smog from American Lung Association

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The American Lung Association says the 16-county tri-state area of Charleston and Huntington, West Virginia and Ashland, Kentucky hit its “best ever” rating for ozone-related smog in 2020.

The association released its annual “State of the Air” report Wednesday and says for the 12th consecutive year, air quality related to smog has improved to a “B” rating, and for the eighth year, it has met the national air quality standard.

“While the Charleston-Huntington-Ashland metro areas received B’s for particle pollution and ozone smog,” says association Director of Environmental Health Kevin Stewart, “There are still days when the air pollution levels are high enough to harm health and place children, older adults and people living iwth chronic lung and heart disease at particular risk.

The 2021 report also finds that, despite nationwide progress on cleaning up air pollution, more than 40% of Americans live with unhealthy ozone or particle pollution. This year’s report covers 2017-2019.

“People of color are significantly more likely to breathe polluted air than white people,” added Stewart.

Compared to the 2020 report, the region experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone and hit its best-ever performance. Lawrence County in Ohio and Cabell and Kanawha Counties in West Virginia each recorded an average of 0.7 days of high ozone.

This year’s report found that more than 4 in 10 people (135 million) nationwide lived with polluted air, putting their health and lives at risk. The report also finds that nationally, people of color were 61% more likely to live in a county with unhealthy air than white people and three times more likely to live in a county that failed all three air quality grades.