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What We Put In Our Gas Tank Impacts What Comes Out of the Tailpipe

GRAPHIC: The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report shows that Wisconsin's hot summer led to worse ozone pollution, which the ALA calls a challenging situation with changing climate. (SOTA logo provided by ALA-WI
GRAPHIC: The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report shows that Wisconsin's hot summer led to worse ozone pollution, which the ALA calls a challenging situation with changing climate. (SOTA logo provided by ALA-WI
April 30, 2014

BROOKFIELD, Wis. - The American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" report was released today, and an official for the group in Wisconsin says it looks like we're moving in the right direction.

"Particle pollution is improving nationwide and we're seeing that in Wisconsin, but we still have some issues with ozone in particular counties," said Dona Wininsky, state director of public policy and communications for the association. "Ashland has one of the most pristine air qualities in the state. The area around Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids and Wausau has very good air quality."

As in the past, the counties along Lake Michigan have some issues because of pollution that drifts up from the Chicago metropolitan area.

Wininsky said global climate change is a factor, particularly with hotter summers.

"Heat is one of the main components that causes ozone to form," she said. "The air is much better now than it was 15 years ago. Unfortunately we still have some trouble spots here and there, and there are also some issues that we can't control, but in general, we're very happy with the progress that's been made."

While ozone problems were a bit worse, Wininsky said particle pollution problems were a bit better. The Milwaukee area had its best levels ever for both annual and short-term particle pollution.

People can read the latest report and even check the air quality in their communities at stateoftheair.org.

According to Wininsky, the choices we make can have a direct impact on the quality of our air.

"One of the things we can control is the kind of vehicle we drive and the fuels that we use," she said. "Flex-fuel vehicles can run on E-85; that's a cleaner fuel. There's also a growing market for natural-gas vehicles and a lot of stations are starting to put in natural gas. What we put in our gas tank has a big impact on what comes out of the tailpipe."

The report, "State of the Air 2014," is online at stateoftheair.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI