St. Louis gets failing grade for air quality

Missouri

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The American Lung Association gives St. Louis an F for air quality. With a failing grade, there’s no surprise St. Louis did not make the cut for cleanest cities in the US.

St. Louis wasn’t left out from all lists, though. The bistate region ranked #25 for the most polluted cities for year-round particle pollution.

Cities are evaluated in three separate categories or subjects.

First subject: high ozone days.

“Ozone is a pollutant that’s formed basically when you have heat, sunlight, and by heat I mean high temperatures that we have in the summer, lots of sunlight, very little wind,” said Susannah Fuchs, National Lung Association. “Ozone pollution forms when you combine all of that with emissions.”

We experienced on average 4.7 high ozone days per year from 2016-2018. This is down drastically from previous years, but with 4.7 days, we still have a failing grade.

Next subject: particle pollution.

“Particle pollution is very, very fine. You can’t really see it with the naked eye,” Fuchs said. “It might sometimes be called soot. And that also can cause all times of health problems.”

From 2016-2018, we saw an average of 0 high particle pollution days per year. St. Louis gets an A grade on that.

Final test: annual concentration of particle pollution. With particle pollution decreasing in recent years, St. louis falls well below threshold for unhealthy levels – another passing grade.

But remember, this is the category where we rank in the top 25 for most polluted.

Weather patterns and location can have a big effect on a region’s grade.

“As you look at temperatures getting hotter, some of the last couple of years have been the hottest on record, pollution levels have been worse, wildfires have been worse, all those things have to do with higher temperatures and they have air pollution implications,” Fuchs said.

A few things to do to help: drive less by using city transportation or carpooling, use electricity, and don’t burn wood or trash.

For more information on what the levels are in your county and what you can do to help lower pollution visit: stateoftheair.org.

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