The southeast region of the country has some of the healthiest air in the country, according to a new report.
According to the American Lung Association’s 2017 State of the Air report, which monitors ozone and particle pollution, out of 18 counties in South Carolina monitored for air quality, not a single one received a failing grade between 2013-2015.
Twelve of those counties, including Charleston, had no unhealthy days for ozone pollution during that time period. Beaufort County was not one of the counties that was monitored.
By comparison, three counties in Georgia and one county in North Carolina received a grade of “F” for having a high number of unhealthy ozone days during that time.
The only city in the region on the most polluted list was Baton Rouge, La.
Charleston-North Charleston, Columbia-Orangeburg-Newberry and Florence were among the cleanest cities in the state for ozone pollution.
But Charleston did not score a top spot among the cleanest cities for particle pollution, which emanates from wildfires, wood-burning devices, coal-fired power plants and diesel engines.
The city tied first for cleanest metropolitan areas in the country for ozone, but ranked 129 for annual particle pollution out of 184 metropolitan areas.
Overall, the American Lung Association’s report seemed optimistic about the results, which depicted a reduction in pollutant levels from recent years.
According to the 2017 report, one-quarter fewer people live where the air quality hit unhealthy levels in 2013-2015 than in the 2016 report.
Many cities, such as Charleston, reached their lowest levels of ozone and year-round particle pollution ever.
“This year’s ‘State of the Air’ report is a testament to the success of the Clean Air Act, which has reduced air pollution in much of the nation,” Harold P. Wimmer, national president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in a press release.
The report urged the public to “speak up for health air protections” and help curb pollution by driving less, using less electricity, not burning wood or trash or working with community efforts to improve air quality.
It also called on government officials to protect the Clean Air Act, which congressional bills are aiming to limit, and reduce carbon emissions of fossil fuel industries and other sources to help fight climate change.
“Stopping or retreating cannot be an option,” report’s webpage said. “...The president, the EPA administrator, members of Congress, governors and state leaders all have a key role to play. These leaders must support steps to improve the air we breathe so that it does not cause or worsen lung disease.”