The Lead

Air quality in Harrisburg metro area among worst in nation, despite improvements

By: - April 24, 2019 5:38 pm

The Harrisburg-York-Lebanon metropolitan area’s air quality has improved compared to previous years, according to the American Lung Association’s annual report. But it’s still not great.

“Mid-state residents should be aware that we’re breathing unhealthy air, driven by local emissions, upwind sources, and extreme heat as a result of climate change, placing our health and lives at risk,” Kevin Stewart, the American Lung Association’s director of environmental health for advocacy and public policy, said in a press release.

The region ranked 47th out of 228 metro areas nationwide in high ozone days, which can contribute to asthma and other lung diseases. High ozone levels can also be attributed to higher temperatures from climate change.

For the first time, “the metro area posted its first set of all-passing grades under the current air pollution standard,” according to the release. That bit of good news means the area went from being tied for 22nd worse among metro areas for unhealthy days in the year to 35th worse.

Meanwhile, the average year-long level of particulate matter in the air for the region improved nine spots over its national ranking last year — but still ranks as the 24th worst in the nation.

Since 1996, the region has had 36 fewer high ozone days, while since 2000, the region has about 12 fewer days with an unhealthy concentration of airborne particles.

Read the full report here.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.