ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Another failing grade for the air that we breathe in the St. Louis area. The American Lung Association's 2019 State of the Air report once again gives St. Louis an "F" grade for ozone pollution.
"We've pretty consistently gotten an "F" for our air quality on ozone pollution for a very long time," said Susannah Fuchs, director of Clean Air for the American Lung Association.
But this time, there was some improvement. This new report found St. Louis had the fewest unhealthy ozone pollution days ever.
"The reason that this "F" keeps happening - even though we're making progress on reducing air pollution -- is our standards keep getting more strict," Fuchs tells KMOX. "So we are making progress, but we still have a ways to go before we get to clean air."
Even so, the St. Louis area ranks 29th worst when it comes to ozone pollution in the nation.
"St. Louis isn't in a situation like some of the California cities that are the very worst polluted, but we're also not in a good situation like Vermont or Maine where there's very little ozone pollution. Still, each and everyone of us can take steps to reduce the things that cause ozone pollution. And business and industry are taking steps to continue to do that as well."
So what can be done to make our air more healthy?
"For individuals, something that really makes a difference is car and van pooling and using transit," said Fuchs. "There's also things like flex time or telecommuting that takes cars off the road during peak driving times. When there's a lot of cars on the road, you don't want more cars on the road."
The 2019 report also found St. Louis had lower levels of both year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution as compared to last year's report.
"Particle pollution is made of soot or tiny particles that come from coal-fired power plants, diesel emissions, wildfires and wood-burning devices," Fuchs said. "These particles are so small that they can lodge deep in the lungs and trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes, and can even be lethal."
Air and particle pollution also can increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer and developmental and reproductive harm.
Learn more about the St. Louis rankings, as well as air quality across Missouri and the nation, by reading the 2019 "State of the Air" report at Lung.org/sota.