Air quality continues to be a major issue for the DC area

Oppressive heat and high humidity settle in over the Washington skyline as record-breaking temperatures and ozone-laden haze prompt air-quality alerts for the coming days in the nation's capital, Friday, July 23, 2010. Viewed from an overlook in Virginia above the Potomac River are, from left to right, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Capitol, the Smithsonian Castle and the Library of Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(ASSOCIATED PRESS/J. Scott Applewhite)
Air quality in the D.C. area continues to be an issue, according to a new report by the American Lung Association, with an expert saying climate change is an increasing problem.

The newly released State of the Air report by the American Lung Association, puts D.C., Maryland and Virginia, 20th for those most at risk for dangerous side effects from ozone pollution.

“Ozone pollution is clearly a problem here. It places the health of almost 10 million residents at risk including those who are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution,” said Kevin Stewart, Director of Environmental Health, advocacy and public policy with the American Lung Association.

Stewart said Arlington, Virginia, and Anne Arundel, Harford and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, had the worst, or “F” grades. In good news, Fauquier and Frederick counties in Virginia had “A” grades, which mean they had no bad air days for ozone pollution.

“Climate change is having an increasing effect on air quality,” Stewart said.

The report looked at years 2016 through 2018.

Nationally, it found five in ten people live in counties with unhealthy ozone or particle pollution.

Tying the report in with the current pandemic, Stewart said these conditions could have a link to more people getting illnesses like the coronavirus.

“Standard studies have showed for years that air pollution exposure is linked to greater risk of respiratory infections and some very early evidence in this episode suggesting that exposure of air pollution may make people more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections and increase the risk of dying as a result,” Stewart said.

As far as tips for moving forward, Stewart said there are things everyone can do.

These include, not smoking indoors, reduce the number of fireplaces and wood burning stoves, do not use electricity that is not needed and make sure vehicle engines are properly tuned.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up