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Air quality report breath of fresh air for Central Florida

Orlando's Lake Eola. Photo: Mick Haupt

The Central Florida region continues to rank as one of the cleanest communities when it comes to air quality, according to a new report from the American Lung Association. Poor air quality can have effects on health, especially for children or anyone with respiratory illness like asthma or COPD.

The “State of the Air” report looked at three years of data, from 2018 to 2020 and looked at both particle pollution and ozone gas.

Particle pollution comes from things like construction, factories, power plants, burning fossil fuels, and motor vehicles. Ozone gas forms when certain chemicals, usually created by burning fossil fuels, are cooked in the lower atmosphere — both can be respiratory irritants.

“We did see that Orlando area experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone in this report,” said American Lung Association’s Ashley Lyerly. “This is actually a better ranking than what we have seen in in years past. That certainly is a welcome change.”

Compared to the last report issued in 2021, Orlando experienced fewer days of high ozone days. The region ranked 67th most polluted using this measure, and received a score of “C” for ozone pollution.

Short-term spikes of particle pollution were also on the decline, but year-round measures of particles in the air increased slightly.

Keeping an eye on energy use, transitioning to fuel-efficient vehicles, and advocating for local governments to reduce fossil fuel usage are good ways to keep the region’s air clean.

“We want to continue to see improvements in the Orlando metro area,” said Lyerly. That includes “being mindful of some strategies that you could do yourself can be advocating for not only in your own community but also at the state level and nationally around air quality.”

The most polluted regions based on short-term and long-term particle pollution, as well as ozone pollution, were located in California. Nationwide, nearly 9 million more people were affected by particle pollution than last year. The annual report found that people of color were 61 percent more likely that white people to live in a county with a failing grade for at least on pollutant.

With the release of the report, the American Lung Association is calling on the Biden administration to tamp down on these pollutants and asking for stricter limits on both short-term and long-term air pollutants.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to ... Read Full Bio »