Some Illinois counties get an “F” for clean air
Overall, Americans are breathing in much healthier air, according to the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report. The report, which uses data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency, finds that significant progress has been made in reducing the amount of ozone and particle pollution since the 1970s. This is good news for lungs in many parts of the country.
But the report also notes that more than 44.3 million Americans live in areas burdened by year-round particle pollution. This includes both Cook and Lake Counties in Illinois, which scored an “F” on the “Ozone grade,” which measures the number of high ozone days each year. Cook County also received a failing grade in “Particle Pollution” for both 24-hour periods and annual measures.
“Patients who have asthma, emphysema and severe allergies, as well as those with severe coronary artery disease are at greater risk during poor air quality days,” says Dr. Roger Hecker, an Internal Medicine physician Advocate Medical Group and Advocate Condell Medical Center. “I always recommend these patients stay cool and hydrated on poor air quality days, and also use sunscreen if you have to be outside. If you have a pre-existing lung condition that requires medication to manage, you need to avoid being out during these days.”
The report also notes other groups most at risk for suffering from poor air quality including, children and teens, whose lungs are still developing; people age 65 and older; people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes; and people with low incomes.
Only four cities made the “Cleanest Cities” list this year: Bismarck, ND; Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL; Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL; and Rapid City, SD. These cities had no days in the unhealthy level for ozone or short-term particle pollution.
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