Virginia earns high grades for air quality

Virginia earns high grades for air quality
Blue Ridge Mountains

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The numbers are out from the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report.

This year, Virginia received an A in the category of particle pollution from 2017 through 2019, but some areas were ranked poorly for ozone.

Arlington County received a D and Fairfax County received a C, while in Rockingham County there were good grades overall. Although Kevin Stewart with the American Lung Association says the standards for measuring air pollution are weak and need to be improved.

Stewart says the current standards for ozone are set at a level of 70 parts per billion, while health effects are still seen at 60 parts per billion.

“That’s the way we do the arithmetic, but also recognize that the standards themselves need to be improved to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety as the Clean Air Act requires by law,” said Stewart.

Stewart says people with health conditions, in poverty, and people of color feel the effects more when levels are bad.

“There are populations who are disproportionately exposed to air pollution. The more we concentrate on helping relieve the burden of air pollution in those communities, I think that will help move things along significantly for everyone,” Stewart said.

Stewart adds attention is now being paid to areas in need.

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