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Central Pennsylvania has particle pollution problem according to Lung Association

  • Scott LaMar

Airdate: April 19th, 2023


Particle pollution. Do you know what it is? Fine particulates can cause respiratory problems for those at risk like those who suffer from asthma. Central Pennsylvania has some of the worst particle pollution in the country and it’s actually getting worse.

There is some positive news though. The region has shown improvement in the ozone smog.

The American Lung Association has released its annual State-of-the-Air report that points to the region needing to do more to clean up the air.

The Lancaster Metro was graded with an “F” on particle pollution and Dauphin County was graded with a “D.”

Ozone actually got its best ever grades in the region.

With us on The Spark Wednesday is Kevin Stewart, Director of Environmental Health, American Lung Association, who explained particle pollution,”Particle pollution is a complex mixture of microscopic particles and droplets smaller than the diameter of the human hair. So they can get very deep into the lungs. It’s not made of a single thing, but all sorts of things. Soot, because sometimes it’s called soot pollution, but also metal fumes, air toxics, combination of particle of things from agricultural operations. All those are joined together in this thing called fine particle pollution that gets into the lungs, can cross into the bloodstream, can actually cause problems for people, especially with cardiovascular disease, can cause angina or chest pain, can result in heart attack. Stroke can send people to the emergency room and sometimes kills them.”

Stewart indicated particle pollution has increased by more than 60% nationally over the past five years. Do we know why,”We do know that the western wildfires certainly have affected that that increase. But at the same time, there are things that are going on here in the east that are part of our air pollution mix. And we know that agricultural emissions still are part of the problem that we are experiencing. How big that is is a more complicated question than this report can address. It’s beyond the scope of what we could do. We’re reporting on the quality of the air. So we want people to know whether they’re breathing clean air or dirty air.”

Stewart addressed how the Lung association wants the report to be used,”We want people to understand, first of all, the quality the others are breathing that, you know, it may look okay outside, but it could still be problematic for people in lots of high risk groups. And the high risk groups include broad swaths of the population, children, senior citizens, people with chronic lung disease, heart disease, people living in poverty, pregnant women. We have individuals who also are people of color. But all of those groups are at higher risk and we want them to understand this. Go to the report. Take a look at your grade.”



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