The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Metro Atlanta's air quality has improved but still ranks among the worst in the nation, a new report shows.
The American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" report found Atlanta had its lowest year-round particle pollution and better ozone levels than last year. But the metro area still ranked 16th worst for particle pollution and 19th worst for ozone.
"Georgia's grades in the State of the Air 2010 report, while still at unhealthy levels in some areas, show improvement from previous years and demonstrate that efforts to clean our air do work," said June Deen, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Georgia.
The report found that a decade of cleanup measures, reduction in emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the transition to cleaner diesel fuels and engines have paid off in cutting levels of deadly particle and ozone pollution, especially in the East and Midwest.
"Air pollution remains a serious threat to our nation's health," Deen said. "We can all do more for healthy air. Driving less, not burning wood or trash, and using less electricity are all steps we can take to improve the air we breathe."
Saturday, May 1 marks the start of smog season. Ground-level ozone is more likely to form in warmer months, negatively affecting air quality and human health.
"It may seem like one person can't affect something as large as air pollution, but every small change that Georgians make adds up fast," said Kevin Green, executive director of the Clean Air Campaign. "Breathing is not optional. It's estimated that half of all smog-forming emissions come from tailpipes, so for every car we take off the road, we're one step closer to healthier air."
Tighter federal air quality standards could arrive later this year.