Columbus’s air quality has improved yet again since last year’s report, according to the American Lung Association’s 2023 “State of the Air” report, which was released Wednesday. The city’s ozone pollution is at its best level ever, recording fewer unhealthy days.
The Lung Association’s 24th annual “State of the Air” report grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone air pollution, annual particle pollution and short-term spikes in particle pollution over a three-year period. This year’s report covers 2019-2021.
“Here in Columbus and across the nation, we are seeing ozone pollution improving, thanks in big part to the success of the Clean Air Act. But there is more work to do,” said Ken Fletcher, advocacy director for the Lung Association. “Even one poor air quality day is one too many for our residents at highest risk, such as children, older adults, individuals who are pregnant and those living with chronic disease. That’s why we are calling on lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels to take action to ensure that everyone has clean air to breathe.”
Nationally, the report found that ozone pollution has generally improved across the nation, thanks in large part to the success of the Clean Air Act. However, more work remains to fully clean up harmful pollution, and short-term particle pollution continues to get worse. In addition, some communities bear a greater burden of air pollution. Out of the nearly 120 million people who live in areas with unhealthy air quality, a disproportionate number – more than 64 million (54%) – are people of color. In fact, people of color were 64% more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade for at least one measure, and 3.7 times as likely to live in a county with a failing grade for all three measures.
Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Columbus
Compared to the 2022 report, Columbus experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” ranked Columbus as the 91st most polluted city for ozone pollution, which is better compared to its ranking of 84th in last year’s report. Franklin County received a B grade for ozone pollution.
Particle Pollution in Columbus
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. Columbus’s short-term particle pollution stayed the same in this year’s report, which means there were the same number of unhealthy days. The area is ranked 118th worst for short-term particle pollution. Franklin County received a B grade for short-term particle pollution.
The 2023 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in Columbus were slightly higher than in last year’s report. The area was ranked 63rd most polluted for year-round particle pollution, (worse than the ranking of 66th last year).
The American Lung Association is calling on President Biden to urgently move forward on several measures to clean up air pollution nationwide, including new pollution limits on ozone and particle pollution and new measures to clean up power plants and vehicles. See the full report results and sign the petition at Lung.org/SOTA.
Submitted by the American Lung Association.