Forsyth County Gets an "F" for Ozone Levels

Forsyth County Gets an "F" for Ozone Levels

5:30pm May 01, 2013
The metropolitan are in Winston-Salem/Greensboro received a failing grade for some air quality levels.
by Environment Blog via flickr

According to the American Lung Association, more than 131.8 million people in the United States, or four in ten people live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution. The organization gave several counties in N.C. high marks for air quality in a new report. But some Triad counties received a failing grade.

The "State of the Air 2013" shows that the nation’s air quality is overall much cleaner, especially compared to just a decade ago.  

The report gives grades for the amount of days of both high levels of ozone, or smog, and particles, such as soot.  Forsyth County, N.C. got an F for ozone levels.

“That is a problem for everyone, particularly for our most vulnerable population children, the elderly, people with lung disease, heart disease and diabetes, things like shortness of breath, heart attacks, strokes or even premature death,” says Laura Kate Bender, Healthy Air Coalition Coordinator at the American Lung Association.

Carey Gentry, senior environmental specialist with the Forsyth County Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection, says he is not surprised by the county’s low grade.

“We have had this grade before. As for ozone, back in the late 90’s under a higher standard, we were having 25 to 35 days above code orange or higher, now we are only in the nine to ten day range and this was under a stricter standard, so ozone is improving,” says Gentry.

The report by the American Lung Association is limited to North Carolina counties that have air monitoring equipment and is based on data collected by the EPA.

The N.C. counties with the best ozone levels are Avery, Chatham and Swain counties. Davie County got a B and Rockingham got a C.

Rowan County also received an F for ozone pollution. Guilford County received a D.  But Bender says the report isn’t all bad news for Triad Counties.

“Forsyth and Guilford Counties both received A’s for particle pollution in this year’s report, meaning that there were no days over the period covered by the report, when the particulate levels spiked unhealthy amounts. That is not only a big step forward, but also a significant reduction in last year’s levels,” says Bender.

Bender credits the Clean Air Act and other regulations for many of the air quality improvements. The organization is offering a free smartphone app to help people monitor air quality levels in their communities.

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