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Wyoming Air Quality Grades Down, Solution in Sight

Seven Wyoming counties with high levels of oil and gas activity saw their grades slip in this year’s "State of the Air" report card from the American Lung Association. (Foto-Rabe/Pixabay)
Seven Wyoming counties with high levels of oil and gas activity saw their grades slip in this year’s "State of the Air" report card from the American Lung Association. (Foto-Rabe/Pixabay)
May 9, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Bucking the national trend of improving air quality, seven Wyoming counties with high levels of oil and gas activity have seen their grades slip in this year's "State of the Air" report card from the American Lung Association.

Ronni Flannery, healthy air director of the American Lung Association in Wyoming, says the good news is the state knows how to improve air quality, and has been a national leader in regulating oil and gas emissions

"And we've seen that in the upper Green River basin, for example where some of these regulations are in place that their air quality is improving,” she states. “And we would like to see that applied on a statewide basis, particularly when it comes to leak detection and repair."

The report found Campbell County saw its grade drop from a B to a D, and Laramie County slipped from an A to a C, in a single year,” she points out. “The air in the city of Cheyenne, however, ranked among the cleanest nationally in 2015.

Flannery says oil and gas emissions, along with coal-fired power plants, contribute to dangerous ozone pollution. She explains ozone, often called smog, causes a chemical reaction and aggressively attacks lung tissue.

Flannery adds when older adults or children with asthma are exposed to ozone, they frequently end up in the doctor's office, hospital or emergency room.

"When we think about air quality and the challenge of cleaning up our air, we ought first to consider the health of those most at risk in our communities,” she stresses. “And if the air is not safe for everyone to breathe, we need to be doing more."

Flannery adds air pollution can lead to premature deaths, asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer.

The Lung Association says people most at risk include children, seniors, people of lower incomes and those with respiratory conditions.


Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY