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Report: Minnesota Air-Quality Improves Amid Tougher Standards

Even as air-pollution monitoring standards get tougher, a new report shows Minnesota's air quality continues to improve. (iStockphoto)
Even as air-pollution monitoring standards get tougher, a new report shows Minnesota's air quality continues to improve. (iStockphoto)
April 22, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Air quality in Minnesota is improving, according to the new State of the Air report from the American Lung Association.

Out of 14 Minnesota counties with air-quality monitors, the report gives 13 passing grades in regard to ozone pollution.

But counties such as Anoka, which got a "D," saw their rankings slip in this year's report.

Robert Moffitt, director of media relations with the American Lung Association in Minnesota, says in general, the state's air quality is moving in the right direction.

"So, even as the air quality improves, the standards that we use to measure air quality get tougher," says Moffitt. "So, it may look like, 'Gee, we're not making any progress,' we're actually making terrific progress in air quality."

The report provides a snapshot of Minnesota's air quality from 2011 to 2013. It also says a little more than half of all Americans are living in counties with potentially unhealthy levels of air pollution.

Nationally, Clay and Wilkin counties ranked 10th out of about 200 metro areas for having some of the lowest levels of year-round particle pollution.

Moffitt says state efforts to reduce the levels of dust, soot or smoke in the air, such as the Minnesota Next Generation Energy Act, are paying off. But he adds there's more work to do.

"The state of Minnesota is continuing to work on implementation of the Clean Power Plan," says Moffitt. "If this occurs, we're going to see even a greater cleanup, not just in Minnesota, but across the entire region."

To help reverse the effects of air pollution, the American Lung Association is suggesting federal lawmakers protect the Clean Air Act, and that states could enact changes to move away from using old or dirty diesel engines.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN