Philly area off the ‘worst 25’ list for ozone pollution, but still gets failing grade - PlanPhilly

Results are in from the American Lung Association’s annual look at air pollution in American metro areas. There’s good and bad news for the Philadelphia region.

The area finally made it off the list of the 25 worst metro areas for ozone smog, but levels of particulate pollution are less promising.

“We have mixed results,” said Kevin Stewart, director of environmental health at the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic.

The Philadelphia skyline. (Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital)
The Philadelphia skyline. (Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital)

The ALA’s 2022 State of the Air report looked at two types of air pollution: ozone and fine particulates. Both can come from cars, power plants, and other industrial sources — and both take a toll on people’s bodies. The report compared data from 2018-2020 to multi-year averages dating back to the 1990s.

During the latest three-year period, the Philadelphia-Reading-Camden metro area had an annual average of less than seven unhealthy high-ozone days — its fewest in at least two decades. The area saw an annual average of about 10 high-ozone days in 2017-2019, down from a high of over 70 in 1997-1999.

Ozone can make asthma and other lung problems worse, and can make lungs more susceptible to infection.

The ALA still gives what it defines as the Philadelphia-Reading-Camden area a “failing” grade for ozone pollution. But the latest report takes the area off the ALA’s list of the 25 worst out of over 200 metro areas for ozone pollution, where the region has been for years.

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