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Good News and Bad for MO in "State of the Air" Report

PHOTO: The American Lung Association "State of the Air 2014" report shows nearly half of all Americans live in areas where the air quality is unhealthy at times. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith.
PHOTO: The American Lung Association "State of the Air 2014" report shows nearly half of all Americans live in areas where the air quality is unhealthy at times. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith.
April 30, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - It's a story of good news and bad news in the new "State of the Air" report, released today by the American Lung Association.

The study found that the nation's air quality overall has worsened in the past few years, with nearly half of everyone living in areas where the air is unhealthy at times. Still, the picture is better than it was 10 years ago.

"Cleaning up power plants, cleaning up diesel, cleaning up cars, cleaning up SUVS - things like that have made a huge difference in reducing pollution across the nation," said Janice Nolen, assistant vice president for national policy at the Lung Association.

Ozone and particulate matter are measured at monitoring sites. Those pollutants are connected with health problems - especially affecting the very young, the very old, and people of all ages with lung and heart conditions, as well as disproportionately affecting people living in poverty.

The St. Louis region remains an air-pollution trouble spot for Missouri.

Climate change is complicating the nation's progress in ensuring cleaner air, and Nolen pointed to how rising temperatures boost pollution. She said cleaner air will require cracking down on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.

"You've got more heat, and that's what we're seeing with climate change," she said. "You're going to have more ozone. You're going to have a likelihood that you're going to have higher levels than you would otherwise."

The report recommends improving the air-quality monitoring network, reducing carbon pollution from power plants, lowering tailpipe emissions, cutting wood smoke, adopting Environmental Protection Agency-proposed ozone standards and educating people about what they can do to reduce pollution, as well as how to protect themselves when air quality is poor.

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

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO