Study: Tri-State region fares well compared to West Coast in air quality

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — With Earth Day just around the corner, the American Lung Association released their State of the Air Report for 2021.

The results were good for the Charleston, Ashland, and Huntington tristate regions, which received a “B” grade. Still, advocates at the American Lung Association say there’s room for improvement.

The report looked at air quality during the years 2017 through 2019. It found that nationally, three out of every 8 Americans live in counties with “F” grades for ozone pollution.

It also found that nationally, 61% of people of color are more likely to live in a county with a failing air quality grade.

As for the tristate area, it received its best-ever grade.

“It was very exciting to see the “B” grade that the Charleston metro area had received for ozone pollution,” said Molly Pisciottano, advocacy director for the American Lung Association for the state of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

She says this improvement is largely due to the national Clean Air Act passed in 1970, but there are still things that you can do on an individual level that can also help.

“Reducing the use of cars and if it’s possible and safe at the time, using public transportation or biking or electric cars and also if it’s possible reducing energy consumption and not burning wood or trash in your neighborhood,” said Pisciottano.

That’s because there are two types of pollution: ozone pollution, caused by fossil fuels, and particle pollution.

Image courtesy of the American Lung Association

This is why most of the cities with the worst air quality are on the West Coast.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen a number of wildfires on the West Coast and also like I said, temperature… you know the heat has a part to play in that, and also industry; there’s a lot of traffic and people over there,” she said.

Both types of pollution can lead to lung disease like cancer and asthma, and climate change: that’s why Pisciottano wants West Virginians to be aware of air quality.

“Taken together it’s a confirmation of the fact that the atmosphere is a limited resource and if you don’t put pollution in the air, it won’t show up in your air quality monitors,” she said.

The goal is for the tristate area to reach an “A” grade in the next study.

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