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Daily Newscasts

WI Air: It’s Getting Better

May 2, 2011

BROOKFIELD, Wis. - Every year, the American Lung Association puts out a report on the nation's air quality, and for Wisconsin the latest news is mostly good news. Dona Wininsky, director of public policy and communications for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin, says the state's air quality is getting better.

"In isolated spots, we still have problems with ozone, and a few counties have problems with particle pollution, but overall, air quality in Wisconsin is improving. The report addresses ozone, particle pollution and pollution sources - both point sources like coal-fired power plants and non-stationary pollution sources like vehicle exhaust."

The eastern side of the state has unique issues, Wininsky notes.

"Ozone travels up the lake front, so all of those counties - from Kenosha County all the way up to Door County - get "F" grades for ozone. Some of that is created in Wisconsin, but some of it drifts up from Chicago and even from Gary, Indiana."

The Green Bay and Madison areas are on the list of the nation's 25 cities most polluted by short-term particles, but no Wisconsin cities are in the top 25 for ozone.

Wininsky points out that clean fuels, like E-85, and the Clean Air Act the best weapons in Americans' fight for better air, and she says flex-fuel vehicles are an important part of the arsenal.

"E-85, for example, reduces ozone and particle pollutants anywhere from 20 percent to 80 percent, and that contributes to cleaner air."

This year's report says the cleanest air in the nation can be found in Honolulu and Santa Fe, while the Los Angeles area is still the worst place for ozone problems - but the report also acknowledges that Los Angeles has made great improvements over the past 13 years.

The American Lung Association estimates that enforcement of the federal Clean Air Act will save 160,000 lives this year.

The 2011 "State of the Air" rankings are available at

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI