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American Lung Association gives Delaware's air poor marks again

Delaware Public Media

New data shows Delaware continues to have poor air quality by some metrics—especially in the northern part of the state. 

The American Lung Association’s 2020 State of the Air Report analyzes data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine ozone concentration and particulate matter averages at sites across the country for the three-year period of 2016 through 2018. 

It ranks the Philadelphia metro area—which includes Delaware’s Kent and New Castle Counties—as the 12th most polluted city in the country for year-round particle pollution and 23rd for most days with high levels of ozone smog. Those rankings are worse than the 2019 report.

On the county level, the 2020 report gives Delaware counties similar marks to the previous year. New Castle County got an F for its ozone smog, Sussex got a D and Kent got a C.

“In Delaware we continue to breathe some of the most unhealthy air in the country and it really is driven by emissions from vehicles and industrial sources,” said American Lung Association Chief Mission Officer Deb Brown.       

The First State did receive some good marks. Kent and Sussex Counties each got an A for the ninth year in a row for having minimal days with high particle pollution during the study.

The report touts the Clean Air Act in the law’s 50th year and Brown calls for even stricter measures on particulate and ozone pollution. 

“We know that the science is clear that we really need stronger restrictions on ozone and particle pollution to really safeguard people’s health,” she said.      

The study also notes Delaware counties have a somewhat higher rate of COPD and other lung illnesses than the average of all counties with ozone detectors nationwide.

The American Lung Association says some very early evidence suggests that exposure to air pollution may make people more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and may increase the severity of the disease if they get sick.     

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