Cook County’s Air Quality Slowly Improving

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Cook County’s Air Quality Slowly Improving

American Lung Association releases 13th annual State of the Air report

COOK COUNTY, IL – The American Lung Association’s 13th annual State of the Air 2012 report grades cities and counties based on the number of days of high ozone (smog) and particle pollution (soot). Cook County’s particle pollution and ozone grades remained the same this year, (“F’s”) but the county saw five fewer unhealthy days of ozone pollution and eight fewer days of particle pollution over the 2011 report. Although Chicago’s air quality improved, the area ranked 18th in the nation this year for “most polluted” city.

With more than 700,000 people in the county with lung disease, clean air is especially important for this susceptible population.

“Someone in everyone’s family is at risk from air pollution,” explains Harold Wimmer, President & CEO of the American Lung Association in Illinois. “People hurt by air pollution range from newborn babies whose lives are cut short, to grandparents who suffer heart attacks, to healthy, exercising adults whose lung function is reduced.”

This year’s report details the national trend that standards set under the Clean Air Act to clean up major air pollution sources—including coal-fired power plants, diesel engines, and SUVs—are working to drastically cut ozone and particle pollution from the air we breathe. Despite these improvements, America’s air quality standards are outdated, putting the health of millions of Americans at stake.

Individuals can do their part to protect our air by driving less, walking, biking, carpooling or using public transit. They can use less electricity by turning off the lights when they’re not in the room, refraining from burning wood or trash and encouraging their local school systems to use clean school buses. They can also join our Healthy Air Campaign and tell Congress why clean air is important to them by visiting www.fightingforair.org.

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 and premature death. Those at greatest risk from air pollution include infants, children, older adults, anyone with lung disease like asthma, people with heart disease or diabetes, people with low incomes and anyone who works or exercises outdoors.

Editors’ Note: Trend charts and rankings for metropolitan areas and county grades are available at www.stateoftheair.org. Report card graphic comparing five Greater Chicago counties’ grades follows this press release.

About the American Lung Association in Illinois

Our mission is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lungil.org.