Every year the American Lung Association releases a comprehensive study called the State of the Air about air pollution levels across the nation. The report covers key findings, health risks, vulnerable parties, what you can do to help, and the most interesting part, city rankings. The ALA ranks cities and counties across the nation on the quality of their air.
Air quality is based upon ozone levels, 24-hour particle pollution, and annual particle pollution.
Ozone is a gas composed of three oxygen atoms and has good and bad effects depending on its location. What you’re most familiar with is the ozone layer. Naturally occurring ozone miles above the surface of the earth protects us against the sun’s harmful UV rays. But, the ground-level ozone is produced from cars, factories, additional burning of fossil fuels. This is the main component of smog, and is harmful to our lungs. Studies have made direct links between ozone exposure and lung tissue damage.
Particle pollution can come from the same dirty sources, but are solids in the air as opposed to a gas. Soot from a fireplace is a familiar example. Particle pollution results in asthma aggravation, decreased lung function and even heart and lung disease.
So, I was very curious to see how the air ranked at our location in good ole Greenwood, IN. I typed in the zip code and this is what I saw:
Ouch. Well, at least we passed 1 out of 3. I’m going to guess that the location they monitor is right in downtown Indianapolis, so the air here (14 miles south) is probably slightly different. However, I’m certainly no expert on the topic. And most of us definitely spend time in the city at least once per week.
Looking at each chart, it’s safe to say that the air has definitely improved over the years due to ordinances and acts, cleaner engines, and more awareness. Hopefully, in the next State of the Air report, Marion County can dip below those lines.
Check to see how well your air ranks, and share the findings on social media. And take action to protect the air we breathe by writing to your representatives and the White House.