CINCINNATI — The American Lung Association’s 2019 "State of the Air" report found Cleveland the ninth most polluted city in the nation for year-round particle pollution, with Cincinnati ranking not far behind at 13th worst.
However, despite the rankings, Cleveland actually earned its first ever passing grade for year-round particle pollution and Cincinnati earned an "A" grade for short term particle pollution.
The annual air quality "report card" tracks Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of ozone or particle pollution, both of which can be deadly. The 20th annual report also found Cleveland had more high ozone days than in the 2018 report.
"Ohio residents should be aware that we’re breathing unhealthy air, driven by emissions from power plants and extreme heat as a result of climate change, placing our health and lives at risk," said Ken Fletcher, director of advocacy for the Lung Association in Ohio.
"In addition to challenges here in Cleveland, Cincinnati and across the whole state, the 20th-anniversary ‘State of the Air’ report highlights that more than 4 in 10 Americans are living with unhealthy air, and we’re heading in the wrong direction when it comes to protecting public health."
This year’s report covers the most recent quality-assured data available collected by states, cities, counties, tribes and federal agencies in 2015-17. Notably, those three years were the hottest recorded in global history.
Each year, the "State of the Air" provides a report card on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution, also known as smog, and particle pollution, also called soot.
The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways — through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution.
Both ozone and particle pollution are dangerous to public health and can increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm.