Monroe County's grades are slipping a little in terms of air quality.
This morning, the American Lung Association released its annual State of the Air report. It uses data from a few years to grade air quality in counties and metro areas across the country. Specifically, the Lung Association looks at the number of days where an area's air exceeds certain ozone and particle pollution thresholds.
The Lung Association gave Monroe County solid B's
for both the ozone and particle pollution categories. Between 2010 and 2012, Monroe had two days when ozone was present in unhealthy levels for sensitive populations, such as children, the elderly, and people with respiratory conditions, the report says. From 2009 to 2011, the county had one day when particle pollution exceeded a similar threshold.
In last year's report, the county received an A on ozone levels and a B on particle pollution levels. The report says that, over time, Monroe County is experiencing fewer days when high ozone or particle pollution levels are a problem. Since 1996, it has 4.8 fewer high-ozone days, on average. And since 2000, it has 1.7 fewer days of high particle pollution levels, on average. Both pollutants are the result of burning fossil fuels, especially coal and diesel.
Nationwide, ozone levels "were much worse than in the previous year's report," the Lung Association says in a press release. The association says that the warm summers in 2010 and 2012 led to higher ozone readings and more days with high ozone levels. And it warns that "a changing climate threatens to make it harder to protect human health."