Cincinnati and Hamilton County fared poorly on a national list of places with polluted air that was released Wednesday.
The Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington metropolitan region ranked as the eighth-worst for air particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association.
Meanwhile, Hamilton County was given an “F” grade for its number of high ozone days, and a “D” grade for air particle pollution by the Lung Association.
The rankings were included in the group’s “State of the Air 2012” report. The annual air quality report grades cities and counties based, in part, on the color-coded Air Quality Index developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to alert the public to daily unhealthy air conditions.
The 13th annual report uses the most recent, quality-controlled EPA data collected from 2008-10 from official monitors for ozone and particle pollution, the two most widespread types of air pollution. Counties are graded for ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution levels. Also, the report uses the EPA’s calculations for year-round particle levels.
Generally, the report found that air quality in America’s most polluted cities was at its cleanest since the organization’s annual report began 13 years ago. This year’s report details the trend that standards set under the Clean Air Act to cleanup major air pollution sources — including coal-fired power plants, diesel engines, and SUVs — are working to drastically cut ozone (smog) and particle pollution (soot) from the air. Despite this progress, unhealthy levels of air pollution still exist and in some parts of the nation worsened.
More than 40 percent of people in the United States live in areas where air pollution continues to threaten their health. That means more than 127 million people are living in counties with dangerous levels of either ozone or particle pollution that can cause wheezing and coughing, asthma attacks, heart attacks or premature death.
The Cincinnati region ranked 21st for high ozone days out of 277 metropolitan areas. Also, it ranked 39th for 24-hour air particle pollution.
Still, the region is improving. The region has had 19.4 fewer high ozone days annually on average since 1996, and 10 fewer high-particle pollution days since 2000.