Upstate Air Quality Mixed

Worse ozone, better particulates

Ken Pauli
April 24, 2019 - 3:02 pm
Bald Rock Heritage Preserve

Image: Lauren Petracca-USA TODAY Sports

There's some good news and not-so-good news when it comes to the current air quality in the Upstate.

The American Lung Association’s 2019 "State of the Air" report reviewed data collected over three years. It gave South Carolina mixed rankings for pollutants including ozone and particle pollution. 

The 20th annual report found Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson had the worst ozone pollution since the 2016 report. But the same 3 Upstate cities improved in year-round particle pollution to record its best levels ever, meeting the national standard. 

Compared to the 2018 report, Spartanburg, Greenville, and Anderson experienced a slight increase in unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report.  “Ozone especially harms children, older adults and those with asthma and other lung diseases,” said American Lung Association Director of Advocacy, June Deen. “When older adults or children with asthma breathe ozone-polluted air, too often they end up in the doctor’s office, the hospital or the emergency room. Ozone can even shorten life itself.”

The American Lung Association says the main problem is the extreme heat as a result of climate change. “South Carolina residents should be aware that we’re breathing unhealthy air, driven by extreme heat as a result of climate change, placing our health and lives at risk,” said Deen. “In addition to challenges here in South Carolina, 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 2015-2017. Notably, those three years were the hottest recorded in global history.

Both ozone and particle pollution are dangerous to public health and the American Lung Association says they 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.

Find out which cities in the U.S. are the cleanest for their air.  

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