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AMA Releases 21st Annual 'State of the Air' Report

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Georgia’s air quality improved for Ozone and year-round particle pollution. That’s according to the American Lung Association’s 21st Annual State of the Air report.

Clarke County received a ‘C’ for high Ozone days, a ‘B’ when it came to particle pollution.

The Lung Association’s annual air quality “report card” tracks Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of particle pollution and ozone during a three-year period. Once again, the report found that nearly half of all Americans were exposed to unhealthy air in 2016-2018.

Kevin Stewart is Director of Environmental Health, Advocacy and Public Policy for the Association.

He says researchers are concerned that poor air quality could have some impact on the severity of COVID-19 in some cases.

“Studies have shown that air pollution exposure is linked to a greater risk of respiratory infections and some very early evidence suggests that exposure to air pollution may make people more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection as well,” according to Stewart.

The ALA cites a Harvard study which shows that long-term exposure to particulate matter is linked with significant increases in COVID-19 death rates. When compared to people who live in less polluted areas.

Stewart says there are days in north Georgia, particularly Atlanta, when air quality is unhealthy for people in sensitive groups, which comprise a larger segment of the community that many realize.

“When I talk about sensitive groups, I’m not talking about a small minority of the population,” Stewart says. “Children under the age of 18, senior citizens 65 and above. We’re talking about the people with chronic lung disease like asthma, and chronic bronchitis and emphysema, we’re talking about people with chronic heart disease and in this year’s report we have some categories of people, people who live with poverty, persons of color and also people who have a history of cigarette smoking.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, which supporters say have resulted in dramatic improvements in air quality.

The study looked at 3,080 counties across the country, comparing levels of

Visit www.stateoftheair.org. to see the full results for Athens-Clarke County and other Georgia cities.

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