Counties improve air quality
By David Sharos For The Sun April 30, 2012 2:56PM
Updated: June 3, 2012 8:05AM
The American Lung Association in Illinois has some good news for residents of DuPage County: air quality is getting markedly better.
In a report issued by the Lung Association last month, DuPage County improved its particle pollution grade from a C to a B and its ozone grades from a B to an A, as compared to scores from the 2011 report. This qualified DuPage County for the Lung Association’s list of cleanest in the nation for particle pollution.
According to Katie Lorenz, a spokesperson for the American Lung Association, the results from what is the 13th annual report show “that the regulations the EPA has in place regarding pollution and regulating air quality are working.”
“The point of the tests is that the ‘Clean Air Act’ is working, and we are seeing improvements in every state in the country, including California, which was regarded as the worst,” Lorenz said. “There have been efforts regulating industries and manufacturing that use coal fire as well as things like diesel engines and emissions.”
Kane and Will counties also scored well in the latest test, with Kane earning a “B” grade for both categories and Will receiving an “A” for high ozone days and a B for particle pollution.
Tom Schlueter, public information officer for the Kane County Health Department, called the American Lung Association report “good news.”
“It’s always good to know you’re among the top in the country in terms of air quality,” Schlueter said. “We are working on our 2040 master plan, and health will be a component of it as well as transportation. We still have a way to go to reach our goal in terms of providing clean air for everyone to breathe, but it’s good to know we are making progress toward that goal.”
Representatives of DuPage and Will County health departments said they could not comment on the results of the test; they do not test air quality as a department. But Maggie Carson, communications manager for the Illinois EPA, said the three counties are in a “non-attainment area” of the state and that the results in DuPage and surrounding counties are impressive.
“There are areas of the state that are designated as non-attainment areas due to the population density and the number of vehicles there, and those areas have stricter standards than other places in the state,” she said. “One example is the vehicle emissions test required in DuPage County. We don’t have that in Springfield, for instance, because we lack the sheer numbers of cars. So if the air quality in DuPage and Kane and Will is improving — we’re very pleased to see that.”
Lorenz added that while scores reflect improvement in managing local air quality, there is still work to be done to keep things moving in a positive direction.
“There are some common sense things a lot of us have heard about for years that still make sense like carpooling, and not taking individual trips to separate stores,” she said. “People need to walk or use bicycles when they can and use public transportation.”