By: Jaryd Brady, Special to Naples Herald
The American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of the Air” report found Fort Myers and Cape Coral has earned improved grades for the nation’s most common air pollutants. Compared to the 2017 report, Florida has seen a slight cut in ozone pollution.
According to the ALA’s report, Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Naples are ranked as some of the cleanest cities in the nation for short-term and year-round particle pollution, all of them experiencing zero unhealthy air days.
“Year-round particle pollution levels have dropped thanks to the cleanup of coal-fired power plants and the retirement of old, dirty diesel engines,” said Brenda Olsen, Chief Mission Officer of the Southeast Region of the American Lung Association.
The annual report grades both ozone and particle pollution, also known as smog and soot, in areas across the nation. ALA analyzes the average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution to determine if citizens are at risk.
“The 2018 ‘State of the Air’ report finds that unhealthful levels of year-round particle pollution in Florida put our citizens at risk for premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks and greater difficulty breathing for those living with a lung disease like COPD,” said Olsen. “High levels of year-round particle pollution mean our citizens also face an increased risk for lung cancer.”
Due to the warm Florida climate, temperatures brought by climate change make ozone more likely to form and harder to clean up. Over the past decades, ozone pollution has decreased nationwide due to the decrease in major sources of emissions like coal-fired power plants and vehicles.
Although southwest Florida has seen improved air quality, the trends reported in this year’s report reflect the ongoing challenges to reduce each pollutant in the changing political and outdoor climate.
“We can and should do more to save lives,” Olsen said. “The Lung Association in Florida calls on our members of Congress to defend the Clean Air Act, currently under threat from those who want to weaken this effective public health law.”
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