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Atlanta ozone problem worsening

Ozone Pollution
Photo credit: Paolo Neo

In a report released yesterday by the American Lung Association, Atlanta has shown mixed improvement in three pollution indicators that cities were ranked for: ozone, year-round particle pollution and 24-hour paricle pollution levels.  The report is published annually and you can see the results for your county here.

Atlanta ranked 17th among the top 25 cities for year-round particle pollution, which was an improvement over last year's ninth place ranking.  However Atlanta lost ground for ozone pollution, moving from 25th last year up to 23rd place among 25 American cities found to be the most ozone-polluted.  Last year the study imposed harsher standards than in previous years, which may explain some of the ground lost on this particular criteria.

June Deen, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association of Georgia and South Carolina told the AJC, "Long term, we've shown some improvements. Still, we could do better."

The study also grades each county on the three pollution indicators. I live in Dekalb county.  We received an F for ozone, an F for 24-hour particle pollution and a "Fail" grade for year-round particle pollution.  The study reported that 41.5 % of the county population was "at risk" due to our poor air quality, including asthma and bronchitis sufferers and those with diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Strategies for improvement include reduced energy consumption and reduced gas consumption.  Power use and fuel use are huge contributors to ozone pollution. Our increasingly warmer, dryer summers are not helping the problem.  The report advises Americans to drive less by carpooling, using mass transit, and cycling.  Use less electricity by drying clothes on a clothesline outside, drying your hair naturally, using baking soda to clean your oven instead of the self-cleaner, and unplugging chargers for cell phones, iPods, PDAs and other electronics when not in use.