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Lung Association Gives Chesco Air an 'F'

Pollution levels are unhealthy for hundreds of thousands of county residents, according to the American Lung Association's annual report.

"If you live in Chester County, the air you breathe may put your health at risk."

That's the conclusion the American Lung Association reached in its annual State of the Air report. The annual air quality report lists the segments of the population most affected by poor air quality, including 124,055 children and 126,487 people with cardiovascular disease in a county of half a million.

Chester County scored an F in "ozone" and "particle pollution 24-hour," but earned a pass in the "particle pollution annual" field.

The site describes ozone as an invisible, widespread pollutant that inflames tissue and, according to an embedded video, causes something akin to "a bad sunburn of your lungs." Chester County had five high-ozone days per year during the three-year period of study—much improved over previous years but not low enough for a passing grade, which looks on the graph to be four or less.

Particle pollution measures harmful, tiny solids and liquids in the air, including the ones that come from car exhaust. Chester County is in the red zone—meaning unhealthy—with four high pollution days per year.

For information on the methodology of the report, click here.

Joe Phoenix May 02, 2012 at 04:08 PM
That's because there is no more burning allowed in the county. Burning would counteract these pollutants. (Maybe) We have been burning on this planet since the discovery of fire. Now the EPA says this is an issue. Since when is burning wood an issue with the environment?
Tom Sunnergren May 02, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Remarkably Joe--and as a guy who loves a good fire, I hate to be the bearer of this news--wood smoke is unambiguously awful for people. One study reckoned that it's 30 times as potent a carcinogen as cigarette smoke.
CC May 02, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I thought we weren't allowed to burn because of the dry conditions. Is that not the case?
Max Vulpes May 02, 2012 at 07:02 PM
From the Lung Association: Your air is bad. Please send money. Makes me want to put on one of those masks-- to kill the smell.
Joe Phoenix May 02, 2012 at 07:15 PM
@ Tom, I know. I was just stretching it out there. I hate these rules against burning. I was just looking for an excuse.....
Chris Brignola May 02, 2012 at 08:23 PM
The temporary burn ban enacted 04/13 by the Chester County Commissioners was lifted 04/25. Some municipalities may still have their own local burn bans in effect. Many municipalities have permanent burn restrictions in place that may allow only grills and chimineas and sometimes fire pits if they have a screen to prevent flying embers.
CC May 02, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Thanks, Chris! I do admit I enjoy using the fire pit every now and then on a cool summer night.
Jaxxon May 03, 2012 at 05:42 AM
Seems to look worse than it is. As far as weighted averages, we're a hair from passing on Ozone (and it's gone down significantly over the past ten years, which is GOOD), and it looks like we pass for particulates. I'm all for clean air and the American Lung Association, but the way the data is interpreted by the latter seems a bit alarmist.
Lylia Hoehl May 03, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I am an asthmatic, one whiff of burning leaves is enough to send me into an asthma attack that lasts up to 7 weeks, costing me hours spent at the doctors, medications, and hours wasted. Why would you want to harm someone? Each attack causes irreversible scarring to my lungs.
Lylia Hoehl May 03, 2012 at 06:43 PM
A study conducted by the EPA & the NY State Depart. of Health shows that burn barrel emissions from 2 – 40 households burning their trash daily in barrels can produce levels of toxic emissions comparable to a well-controlled 200 ton/day municipal incinerator. These chemicals can include acid vapors and dioxins. Burn barrels emit heavy metals: (lead, cadmium, and chromium) and carbon monoxide. The closer you are to waste that is burning, the higher the risk of inhaling dangerous pollutants. This may not have been the case 50 or even 25 years ago when your parents or grandparents burned trash in a burn barrel. Then household waste consisted mostly of paper and glass. Today, metal cans, plastic packaging, plastic products, and other synthetics make up a large portion of society's waste. When burned, these items can emit toxic pollutants and contaminated soot particles into the air. Potential health effects of breathing the pollutants from burning trash? Short-term effects: coughing or irritation of the respiratory tract and eyes. Smoke can be a vehicle for deep penetration of pollutants into the lungs. Long-term exposure: cancer and emphysema. Acid vapors=irritate the lungs & problems for asthmatics & emphysematics. Dioxins=linked to risks of cancer, delays in child development, and damage to the immune system.

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