Report: These Pa. counties received an ‘F’ for air quality | The Numbers Racket

The report also found that people of color were more than three times as likely to be breathing the most polluted air than white people

By: - April 11, 2022 6:30 am

Clairton Coke Works (Pittsburgh City Paper photo)

Each year, the American Lung Association compiles its State of the Air report cards, grading counties across each state according to Ozone and particle pollution using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

In 2021, the ALA compiled its 22nd edition of the report, finding that more than four in 10 Americans live in places with unhealthy levels of air pollution. 

The report also found that people of color were more than three times as likely to be breathing the most polluted air than white people. 

Let’s take a look at how Pennsylvania fared: 

Editor’s note: States are given grades separately for particle pollution and the number of high ozone days. Additionally, some counties do not collect or monitor the required data and are not graded. 

Methodology: Grades are assigned based on the weighted averages as follows: A=0.0, B=0.3-0.9, C=1.0-2.0, D=2.1-3.2, F=3.3+.The weighted averages are calculated by adding the three years of individual level data (2017-2019), multiplying the sums of each level by the assigned standard weights (i.e. 1=orange, 1.5=red, 2.0=purple and 2.5=maroon) and calculating the average.

Ozone Report Card

In 2021, four of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties received an “F” grade, according to the state ozone report card. 

The four counties to receive an “F” are: Allegheny, Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. 

Allegheny County logged a weighted three-year average of 5.8 (16 orange days, and one red day).

Bucks County logged a weighted three-year average of 9.5 (24 orange days, three red days).

Montgomery County logged a weighted three-year average of 5.0 (15 orange days).

Philadelphia County logged a weighted three-year average of 9.8 (25 orange days, three red days). 

Twelve counties – Blair, Bradford, Cambria, Centre, Elk, Franklin, Greene, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Lycoming, Somerset and Tioga – received an “A” on the ozone report card. 

Particle Pollution Report Card

Two counties – Allegheny and Lancaster – received an “F” on the particle pollution report card of the counties that collected data. 

Allegheny County logged a weighted three-year average of 9.5. (21 orange days, five red).

Lancaster County logged a weighted three-year average of 4.5 (12 orange days and one red day). 

Thirteen counties – Armstrong, Bradford, Cambria, Erie, Greene, Lackawanna, Mercer, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Tioga, Washington, Westmoreland and York – received an “A” on the particle pollution report card. 

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.

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