LIMA – A handful of high ozone days were the only bad marks in the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report for the Lima-Van Wert-Celina region.
The annual air quality report gave the Lima region a “C” for tallying five orange ozone days, or days when ozone levels are unhealthy for sensitive populations, from 2015 through 2017.
But Lima also tied for first as the cleanest metropolitan area in the nation when measuring short-term particle pollution and ranked 96 out of 201 metropolitan areas for annual particle pollution levels.
“Particle pollution is made of soot or tiny particles that come from coal-fired power plants, diesel emissions, wildfires and wood-burning devices. 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,” said Ken Fletcher, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Ohio, in the Ohio report release. “Year-round particle pollution levels have dropped thanks to the cleanup of coal-fired power plants and the retirement of old, dirty diesel engines.”
There were no high particle days, or 24-hour spikes in particle pollution, recorded in the Lima region between 2010 and 2017. The report found annual levels of particle pollution in the region decreased between the 2014-2016 period and 2015-2017 period, both of which were far below the American Lung Association’s target levels.
Ozone pollution, or smog, “aggressively attacks lung tissue by reacting chemically with it,” according to the American Lung Association.
Children and the elderly are at higher risk for health complications associated with ozone pollution, as are people with asthma, COPD, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The Lima region had five ozone action days affecting at-risk populations from 2015-2017.
Still, the region has seen a decrease in the average number of high ozone days in the last 20 years and is better off than other major Ohio cities. From 1997-1999, the Allen County area experienced an average of 35.5 high ozone days per year. But that fell to an average of 1.7 high ozone days per year from 2015-2017, according to the report.
Fletcher attributed those improvements in part to the Clean Air Act, the shift away from coal-powered power plants and less pollution coming from automobiles.
“All of this stuff has had some success in terms of cleaning up the air,” he said.
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.