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"State Of The Air" A Mixed Bag for MI

PHOTO: The American Lung Association's 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's 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.
May 1, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – It's a story of good news and bad news in the new State of the Air report released by the American Lung Association.

While overall air quality is better than it was a decade ago, the study found that ozone readings have gotten worse in the past few years.

Lung Association spokeswoman Janice Nolen says that can lead to serious health issues, particularly for the very young, the very old and those with heart and lung conditions.

“They can cause asthma attacks,” she points out. “They can cause difficulty breathing, send people to the hospital.

“But most importantly, they can shorten life – they can shorten life, as we've learned, by months to years."

Nearly half the country now lives in areas where air quality is unhealthy, according to the report.

Detroit ranked as the 34th most polluted city in the nation for ozone levels, a decline from previous years.

Nolen says the changing climate is making it harder to protect the nation's health, because of the ways rising temperatures boost pollution.

And she says cleaner air will require cracking down on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.

"We've got to have some reduction in those things that are triggering that heat to grow,” she explains. “And that means we need to have standards that limit and reduce the amount of carbon pollution that's produced by coal-fired power plants."

The report also recommends stronger vehicle emission standards, improving the air quality monitoring network, cutting wood smoke, adopting ozone standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and educating people about what they can do to reduce pollution, as well as how to protect themselves when air quality is poor.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI