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American Lung Association Gives Several NY Counties Failing Grades For Air Quality

HAUPPAUGE, NY (CBSNewYork) -  Although the air in New York City is getting cleaner, it's not clean enough.

The American Lung Association's newly-released State of the Air 2011 report found that in many instances New York City's air is still among the dirtiest in the country. According to the report, over 9 million New Yorkers live in counties where unhealthy air threatens their lives and health.

This year, 16 of the 34 counties in New York state with air quality monitors received failing grades. In New York City, three counties failed for ozone and only the Bronx failed for particle pollution. Nevertheless, all counties in the New York City area with monitors experienced fewer unhealthy days than the year prior.

Suffolk County received a failing grade for the 12th straight year.

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"I think the cause is probably multiple. It's air that's coming in from other industrial and heavily populated areas, but... a lot of it is generated here right on Long Island," said Adrienne Esposito from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "We have so much car traffic now and truck traffic. All of Long Island is bad."

The report grades counties based, in part, on the color-coded Air Quality Index developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help alert the public to daily unhealthy air conditions. It also uses EPA's calculations for year-round particle levels.

The American Lung Association identified the number of days that each county with at least one air quality monitor experienced air quality designated as orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups), red (unhealthy), or purple (very unhealthy), to determine the grades.

"As a physician, I work every day with patients suffering from asthma and other lung diseases and see firsthand the effects air pollution has on their health," said Irwin Berlin, MD board chair of the American Lung Association in New York and Chief of the Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine Division at Elmhurst Hospital Center. "If we want to achieve better lung health, we must have healthier air."


High ozone levels can trigger or make worse asthma and other respiratory problems.

In the New York City area, here are some of the grade highlights:

In New York, there was no monitor collecting information for Nassau County or Kings County (Brooklyn) and incomplete monitoring data for Rockland County.

Bronx County, Dutchess County, New York County (Manhattan), Orange County, Putnam County, Richmond County (Staten Island), and Westchester County all received an F.

Queens County received a D.

In New Jersey, there was no monitor collecting information for Union County or Warren County and incomplete monitoring data for Bergen County and Essex County.

All of the other counties in New Jersey received an F, except Atlantic County, which received a D. All of Connecticut's counties also got an F.

LINK: American Lung Association State Of The Air 2011

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