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A Breath of Fresh Air: Iowa Particle Pollution Drops

PHOTO: Year-round levels of particle pollution in Davenport have fallen to the lowest on record. Photo credit: Alan Light/Flickr
PHOTO: Year-round levels of particle pollution in Davenport have fallen to the lowest on record. Photo credit: Alan Light/Flickr
May 2, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa – It’s a breath of fresh air from a new analysis that shows while there is still much to do, progress is being made on air pollution.

Christy Hillman, manager of respiratory health services with the American Lung Association in Iowa, says the latest State of the Air report shows Davenport remains one of the cities most impacted by short-term particle pollution, but year-round levels did fall to the lowest on record.

"For Iowa we had improved levels – our best-ever levels, actually – in our year-long particle pollution,” Hillman explains. “So we are seeing some progress there and we're doing better."

Hillman adds following the national trend, Iowa did have slightly worse numbers for ozone pollution, although Des Moines, Waterloo and Sioux City were all ranked among the cleanest cities in the country for ozone.

Air pollution is linked with lung and heart disease, along with other health issues.
And with hundreds of thousands of adults and children across Iowa considered at-risk, Hillman says it's important to keep promoting strategies that work.

"I think enforcement of our smoke-free air laws, clean-air laws around the area are important,” she stresses. “Funding the work to provide healthy air around Iowa is always important, and strengthening our ozone standards."

While the efforts around reducing air pollution in Iowa and across the country are making a difference, there's a major concern going forward around climate change, says Janice Nolen, who works on national policy for the American Lung Association.

"If you've got more heat and that's what we're seeing with climate change, you're going to have more ozone,” she points out. “You're going have the likelihood that you are going to have higher levels than you would otherwise.

“And it's going to make it harder to clean up. It's going to make it more challenging for us to reduce the ozone that we've got."

Overall, it's estimated that nearly 150 million people in the U.S., or about half of all Americans, live where pollution levels are too often dangerous to breathe.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA