Fairfield County ranked 19th most ozone-polluted county in the nation


Fairfield County is the 19th most ozone-polluted county in the country, according to the American Lung Association (ALA)’s 2015 State of the Air Report.
Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Air Quality System was used for the report to look at levels of ozone and particle pollution across the United States in 2011, 2012 and 2013. A report issued in 2014 covered the years 2010, 2011 and 2012.
In a June 11 letter to the editor, American Lung Association of the Northeast Board Chair Elect Jonathon Rosen said he was “distressed” by this year’s report, which showed that his home area of Fairfield County “still has the worst air pollution in the entire Northeast.”
After losing his father to emphysema, Rosen explained in his letter, he was prompted to become involved with the association 34 years ago and advocate for policies that protect people “who have a hard enough time breathing on their own without obstacles like avoidable air pollution and secondhand tobacco smoke.”
In the United States, nearly 135.8 million people — approximately 44% of the population — live in counties that have “unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution,” according to the report.

Ozone


Otherwise known as “smog,” ozone is a gas molecule that is harmful to breathe. Ozone aggressively attacks lung tissue by reacting chemically with it and can cause serious health problems, including:

  • Premature death.

  • Asthma attacks.

  • Lung cancer.

  • Wheezing and coughing.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Susceptibility to infections.

  • Lung tissue redness and swelling.

  • Possible reproductive, developmental and cardiovascular harm.


Approximately 40.7% of people in the United States live in areas with “unhealthful levels of ozone,” according to the 2015 report.
Not only did Fairfield County rank among the nation’s most ozone-polluted counties, but compared to Connecticut’s seven other counties, it had:

  • The highest number of orange ozone days (52), a one-day increase over the 2014 report.

  • Second-highest number of red ozone days (3).

  • The highest weighted average of high-ozone days (18.8), a 0.3 increase over last year’s report.


“On orange days, ozone pollution can cause serious health problems for people with lung disease, asthma, heart disease and diabetes, as well as the elderly and very young,” Rosen, who lives in Wilton, wrote.
“On red days, all of us may begin to feel symptoms of irritation and not breathe as well when we spend time outdoors.”
Six of Connecticut’s eight counties, including Fairfield County, received F grades for high ozone days, meaning that residents of these counties are at risk for premature death, aggravated asthma, difficulty breathing, cardiovascular harm and lower birth weight, according to the report.
“Sadly,” Rosen wrote, “Fairfield’s ozone problem is likely even worse than the State of the Air Report indicates.”
Because of this, Rosen said, the ALA is “urging the EPA to safeguard the air by strengthening the ozone standard to the most protective level under consideration.”
According to Rosen, doing so could prevent as many as 7,900 premature deaths and 1.8 million asthma attacks nationwide.
“For the sake of Fairfield residents and Americans everywhere,” Rosen wrote, “I hope this standard is strengthened so we can all look forward to healthier air.”

Particle pollution


According the report, particle pollution refers to a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air that pose serious health threats, including the interference of lung growth and performance.
The EPA has concluded that fine particle pollution poses the following serious health threats:

  • Early death (both short-term and long-term exposure).

  • Cardiovascular harm, such as heart attacks, strokes, heart disease, and congestive heart failure.

  • Likelihood of respiratory harm, such as worsened asthma, worsened COPD and inflammation.

  • Possible cancer and reproductive and developmental harm.


The State of the Air Report examines areas’ year-round particle pollution averages and levels over 24-hour periods of time.
Compared to Connecticut’s other counties, the 2015 report showed Fairfield County had:

  • The highest number of red particle pollution days (1).

  • The third-highest weighted average of high-particle pollution days (0.5), a 0.7 decrease over the 2014 report.


Compared to last year’s report, Fairfield County’s orange particle pollution days decreased by two this year, while its particle pollution grade improved one letter grade — from a C to a B.
According to the State of the Air Report, short-term increases in particle pollution have been linked to:

  • Death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes, including strokes.

  • Increased mortality in infants and young children.

  • Increased numbers of heart attacks, especially among the elderly and in people with heart conditions.

  • Inflammation of lung tissue in young, healthy adults.

  • Increased hospitalization for cardiovascular disease, including strokes and congestive heart failure.

  • Increased emergency room visits for patients suffering from acute respiratory ailments.

  • Increased hospitalization for asthma among children.

  • Increased severity of asthma attacks in children.


Click here  to view the 2015 State of the Air Report, visit.