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Report: Upstate NY Air Quality Improving

The American Lung Association released its State of the Air 2013 report on Wednesday. Compiled with 2011 data, the report finds more than 131.8 million people in the U.S. live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

Ozone and particle pollution grades have improved in upstate counties monitored. Seiler says that although the grades given are better than in previous years, they are not grades that any student would want to brag about, with a few exceptions.

Albany's rating has gone from D to C - Saratoga has gone from D to B - among the worst offenders -- Westchester and Putnam counties --  F's have risen to D's on the latest report card. Grades for ozone and short-term particle pollution were based on a weighted average air quality standard the ALA establishes for each county.

A county exceeding that average nine days or more received an F, seven days or more a D, three to six days more a C, 1 to 2 days a B... never exceeding the average an A.

Putnam County improved its grade for ozone from F to D. Rockland County, which wasn’t rated last year, received a C for its ozone grade. Orange County went from D to C.  Dutchess County’s grade for ozone remained a D.

ALA's Vice-President of Public Policy and Communication Michael Seilback points out that the air quality is better today than when the association began its reporting 14 years ago. He says two New York cities made the list of cleanest cities for ozone pollution.
Five New York counties received flunking ozone grades, including Queens County, the only county in New York to receive a worse ozone grade than last year. Westchester and Orange counties, the only counties in the Hudson Valley with particle pollution monitors, both received Bs for particle pollution grades, the same as last year.

The report found that of the 12 Massachusetts counties with air pollution monitors, three — Barnstable, Hampden and Norfolk — improved one letter grade for ozone pollution.  Essex county jumped two grades from an F to a C.  Four counties — Hampshire, Worcester, Bristol and Dukes — received an F.

That's actually an improvement from the 2012 report with gave six Massachusetts counties a failing grade. In Connecticut, Fairfield County received an F for ozone pollution, despite rising above the ranks of worst ozone offenders. The three Vermont cities monitored, Bennington, Chittenden and Rutland, scored in the A to C range on all points.

Read the full report »

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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