Air quality in Suffolk County has improved, but it’s still the worst in New York State.
So says a report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association.
The organization’s 2016 “State of the Air” report says though conditions in Suffolk have improved, compared with last year’s study, high ozone levels still put residents at risk.
Unhealthy levels of ozone can lead to premature death and other serious health issues, such as asthma attacks and cardiovascular harm, said Jeff Seyler, president and chief executive of the American Lung Association of the Northeast.
“While year-round particle pollution throughout New York received passing grades, there is always room for improvement,” he said. “Across the nation, the report found continued improvement in air quality, but more than half of the people in the United States live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution.”
Nassau County does not have an ozone or particle monitor and was not rated in the report.
The study looks at the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants — ozone pollution and particle pollution.
Ozone pollution is created by emissions from coal-fired power plants and vehicles.
Particle pollution is made of soot or tiny particles that come from coal-fired plants, diesel emissions, wildfires and wood-burning devices, Seyler said. These tiny particles can lodge deep in the lungs and trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes, he said.
Particle pollution is analyzed two ways: through average annual levels and short-term spikes.
Significant findings from the report for Long Island include:
- Suffolk County’s ozone grade was again an F.
- Suffolk’s grade for short-term particle pollution remained an A.
- Suffolk’s annual particle pollution level remained the same.
Similar to last year’s report, which covered 2011 to 2013, most of the state improved its ozone levels.
Suffolk’s weighted average for ozone improved from 9.5 to 8.7, but it was still the worst ozone pollution in all of New York State.
The New York area saw fewer ozone days, reversing a trend seen since the 2014 report. The area ranked 14th for ozone, an improvement of three spots from the previous report.
This year’s report, which covers 2012 to 2014, found year-round particle pollution (soot) levels were similar to the 2015 report. Nationwide, the best progress in this year’s report came in reducing year-round levels of particle pollution. All counties in New York received passing grades for both short-term and annual particle pollution.
For the metropolitan area, particle pollution fell to its lowest year-round level; the metro area now meets the national standard for particulate matter with a rating of 2.5, the report said.
More about the state’s rankings and air quality across the country is available at stateoftheair.org.