Apr 27, 201102:37 PMBlog

ALA report underscores need to increase clean-air efforts

Apr 27, 2011 - 02:37 PM
The Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia metropolitan area is the 18th most-polluted area in the country for fine particle pollution (soot), according to the "State of the Air 2011" report released today by the American Lung Association.

Medical research shows that these tiny particles cause lung disease, increased heart attacks and premature deaths. This ranking, based on air monitoring data collected during 2007-09, underscores the importance of a continued regional commitment to pollution-reduction programs, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
"While our overall air quality is better than in many parts of the country, this report makes it clear that residents in parts of our region are exposed to episodes of unhealthy levels of fine particle air pollution," said Craig Kenworthy, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. "Our ranking is driven largely by the challenges we face in the Tacoma-Pierce County area, which has been designated as violating clean air standards for fine particle pollution by the Environmental Protection Agency.

He said this area experiences poor air quality in the wintertime when temperatures drop and more people heat their homes by burning wood.

"We need to help people heat their homes in cleaner ways," Kenworthy said. "And we need people to know that fireplaces pull the heat out of your house and put high levels of pollution in the air."

Fine particle pollution is a toxic mix of microscopic soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols. It is the most dangerous and deadly of the outdoor air pollutants widespread throughout the country.

In addition to smoke from burning wood, diesel exhaust contributes to the region's fine particle pollution. The Clean Air Agency's Diesel Solutions program has been reducing emissions from diesel engines since 2001.

The Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia metro area ranked 120th out of 220 metro areas for ozone pollution, a summertime pollutant that also affects public health.


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