Report Shows Good News And Good Air In Quality Report

A surprisingly good State of the Air report from the American Lung Association finding that the state reported progress on dealing with air pollution. In fact the report says that both the Boston and Springfield metro areas were among the cleanest cities for short term particle pollution. Boston showed improvement in that category--while Springfield dropped minimally on the list from 9th to 14th. Particle pollution and ozone pollution are two of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution.

“In many ways, Massachusetts has been a leader when it comes to air quality – and this year we are seeing some rewarding results. The American Lung Association’s 2021 “State of the Air” report demonstrates great progress, and that we are on the right track when it comes to improving air quality for Massachusetts residents,” said American Lung Association Director for Advocacy in Massachusetts Trevor Summerfield.

“Now, our biggest challenge is complacency – because despite the progress made, there is a lot of work to be done. The report reinforced that people of color are significantly more likely to breathe polluted air. Our elected officials must continue to act boldly to recognize climate change, understand and move forward the cause of environmental justice, and acknowledge air pollution as a serious public health concern.”

The report comes out as the city of Springfield is dealing with a debate over air pollution issues related to a proposed biomass plant for the city. The state has issued new regulations that would make the project more difficult to get off the ground. Proponents are appealing the state decision that pulled the permits for the project.

According to the report:

Throughout the State, no single county received a worsened grade for ozone.

The following counties showed improved grades for ozone from the 2020 report to this year’s report: Barnstable (F to D), Essex (F to D), Norfolk (D to C), Worcester (F to D), Franklin (C to A), Hampden (F to C), Hampshire (D to C).

Notable county grades on particle pollution:

Throughout the State, all counties maintained A or B grades for short-term particle pollution

All counties continued to meet the national standard for year-round particle pollution

Counties that measured worsened year-round particle pollution include Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, Worcester, Franklin, Hampshire, and Dukes

Hampden was the only counties that measured improved year-round particle pollution.

The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: average annual levels and short-term spikes. Both ozone and particle pollution can cause premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and are linked to developmental and reproductive harm. Particle pollution can also cause lung cancer.