Lung association rates D.C. area’s air quality

WASHINGTON — The D.C. area ranks 22nd for ozone pollution out of 220 metropolitan areas nationwide, according to a new report card from the American Lung Association.

But of the areas with the worst air in the nation, this region is among the top five in improvement, experiencing the fewest number of unhealthy air days since the Association review began 16 years ago.

Other area highlights from the report:

  • Ranks 22nd for high ozone days out of 220 metro areas
  • Ranks 45th for 24-hour particle pollution out of 220 metro areas
  • Ranks 46th for annual particle pollution out of 220 metro areas

You can use the report to search air quality by state or by ZIP code. It reveals, for example, that you’re better off breathing in Montgomery County versus Fairfax County.

Looking nationwide, the report declares that climate change endangers air quality in western states, because drought and heat may have increased particles from dust and wildfires, while in the eastern portion of the U.S., air quality is improving because of cleaner power plants and diesel fleets.

The quality of the air you breathe can influence everything from coughing fits to heart attacks and can lead to premature death. Recommendations in the report include calls for new federal ozone limits using the latest health science, tougher rules for power plants to further reduce carbon pollution and prohibiting states from “opting out” of Clean Air Act protections.

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2015 report uses the most recent data from federal, state and local governments in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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