The Environment Report
8:50 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Michigan cities graded on air pollution

Credit Joe Gratz / Flickr

The American Lung Association just released its annual report card on air quality, State of the Air.

Detroit and Grand Rapids made the list of most polluted cities for their ozone levels (Detroit ranks 34th worst out of 220 cities; Grand Rapids ranks 30th).

But others made the cleanest cities list: Kalamazoo and East Lansing scored well for particle pollution. Those are very tiny specks found in smoke and exhaust.

Janice Nolen is with the American Lung Association. She says overall, the air quality in Michigan has improved over the past 15 years. But she says we still have too many days with high ozone pollution.

“Michigan is showing the same thing we’re seeing in a lot of the country: that the more warm weather we have, the more likely it is we’re going to have high ozone days in Michigan,” she says.

East Lansing is listed as a city with clean air in the 2014 State of the Air report, published by the American Lung Association
Credit Google Maps/State of the Air / American Lung Association

She says ozone pollution can cause breathing problems, and she says there’s new evidence ozone might also hurt your heart.

Nearly half of the people in the United States (147.6 million) live in counties with unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution.

Her group is pushing for tighter regulations on smokestacks and tailpipes.

Some of the report's findings:

  • Nearly half of the people in the United States (147.6 million) live in counties with unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution.
  • More than 27.8 million people (8.9%) in the United States live in 17 counties with unhealthful levels of all pollutants measured in the report. 
  • Twenty-two of the 25 most ozone-polluted cities in the 2014 report – including Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago – had more high ozone days on average when compared to the 2013 report.
  • Thirteen of the 25 cities with the worst year-round particle pollution reached their lowest levels yet, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Bakersfield.
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