Northwest Indiana air quality is slowly improving, according to a study released Friday by the American Lung Association. But while Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties scored a C in the category of high ozone (smog) days, Lake County received an F grade in the statewide listing of counties for 24-hour particle (soot) pollution, sharing that failing mark with other populous Hoosier counties like Allen, Marion and St. Joseph counties. Porter County received a C and LaPorte County earned an A grade in 24-hour particle pollution.
Ozone pollution is an invisible, yet irritating gas that makes breathing difficult. Short term particle pollution is comprised of soot and other solid particles in the air.
Lake County recorded three ozone code orange days in the 2012 report and LaPorte and Porter counties reported four. That’s an improvement over 2007’s report, when Lake County recorded nine code orange days for ozone and Porter County saw six orange days and one code red day.
In the 2012 report Lake County topped the state in the number of code orange days for particle pollution with 16, while Porter County had five and LaPorte County none. In 2007 Lake County reported 22 code orange days, Porter five and LaPorte six.
Under the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration’s color-coded Air Quality Index, those sensitive to ground level ozone, such as heart and lung patients, should avoid going outdoors to reduce exposure to higher levels of ozone. On code red days exposure to air can be unhealthy for general populations.
All three Northwest Indiana counties received passing grades for annual particle pollution. The 13th Annual “State of the Air” report is compiled by the American Lung Association from 2,531 air monitors across the country based on air quality information gathered between 2008-2010.
“The State of the Air report shows that we’re making real and steady progress in cutting dangerous pollution from the air we breathe,” said American Lung Association President and CEO Charles Connor.
“We owe this to the ongoing protection of the Clean Air Act. But despite these improvements, America’s air quality standards are woefully outdated, and unhealthy levels of air pollution still exist across the nation, putting the health of millions of Americans at stake.”
The Lung Association attributes most of the national drop in air pollution rates to enforcement of air quality standards under the federal Clean Air Act, which has seen cleaner car engines and reduced energy plant emissions. Forty percent of Americans live in areas where pollution continues to threaten their health.