The State of the Air for Michigan in terms of High Ozone Days and Particle pollution seems to be improving. We still have a ways to go to join the Southwest cities on the cleanest air list. However, Michigan cities fared well in the 2013 State of the Air report released by the American Lung Association this week.
Most polluted city air
Only one Michigan county showed up in the top 25 most polluted cities. Cass county in Southwest MI ranked as #25 for high rates of short term particle pollution.
Particle pollution refers to a mix of very tiny solid and liquid particles that are in the air we breathe. But nothing about particle pollution is simple. And it is so dangerous it can shorten your life.
People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:
Infants, children and teens;
People over 65 years of age;
People with lung disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema;
People with heart disease or diabetes;28
People with low incomes; and
People who work or are active outdoors.29
Diabetics face increased risk at least in part because of their higher risk for cardiovascular disease. A 2010 study examined prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in relation to fine particle pollution in 2004-2005. The evidence suggested that air pollution is a risk factor for diabetes.30
Cleanest city air
The cities with the cleanest air in the United States are heavily weighted in the southeast in addition to a north-south band starting just west of Michigan. See map here
Two Michigan areas made the list for cleanest cities in terms of short term particle pollution.
Niles/Benton Harbor, MI
Grand Rapids and the lakeshore
As for the Grand Rapids/Muskegon/Holland area, the results showed high ozone pollution and low particle pollution. Specifically, this area got a failing grade (F) for High Ozone and a respectable (B) for 24 hour particle pollution. This area received a passing grade on annual particle pollution as well. The at risk population in Kent County whom would be affected the most by poor air quality include individuals with the following:
Pediatric asthma (approx. 3% of Kent county)
Adult asthma (approx. 7% of Kent county)
COPD (approx. 6% of Kent county)
Kent County, on it's own, received a better grade than when it was combined with the lakeshore cities with a (C) for high ozone. It's grade for particle pollution remained the same at a (B).
What can I do?
The American Lung Association has put together some actionable items for citizens to do to make a difference in the quality of their air. Among them is to support clean cars and the Clean Air Act. Additionally, make sure to heed the warnings during ozone action days.