WBEZ | american lung association http://www.wbez.org/tags/american-lung-association Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cook County's air quality gets an 'F' from the American Lung Association http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/cook-countys-air-quality-gets-f-american-lung-association-106828 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/yooperann/5098058893/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago%20air.jpg" style="height: 458px; width: 610px;" title="(Courtesy Ann Fisher via Flickr)" /></a><br />Spring weather can be a breath of fresh air for many Chicagoans, but a foul forecast for air quality in Cook County is a reminder that high pollution and asthma rates persist in many of the nation&rsquo;s large urban areas.</p><p>The American Lung Association released its annual &ldquo;State of the Air&rdquo; report Wednesday, and while our air is cleaner than it was a decade ago, Cook County <a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/states/illinois/cook-17031.html">received Fs across the board</a>.</p><p>Compiling data from states, tribes and federal agencies, the ALA report ranked the nation&rsquo;s cities and counties according to their levels of ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution.</p><p>Chicago ranked 16&nbsp;in the nation for short-term particle pollution. Central and Southern Californian metros dominated the <a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities.html">report&rsquo;s &ldquo;Most Polluted Cities&rdquo; rankings across all three categories</a>.</p><p><a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/states/illinois/lake-17097.html">Lake County also failed</a>, but the ALA gave Bs to Kane, DuPage, McHenry and Will counties.</p><p>Four in 10 Americans (131.8 million people) live in counties that had unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution between 2009 and 2011.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/qa-kim-wasserman-little-villages-coal-crusader-106742">As the city shuts down coal plants</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/does-electricity-aggregation-do-enough-renewable-energy-106760">cuts coal from its power supply</a>, future reports could give Cook County a sunnier outlook. But the region&rsquo;s high poverty rate means a minority of its residents shoulder a greater share of the burden.</p><p>&ldquo;No one should be surprised by the grade Cook Country was given, but we ought to be alarmed,&rdquo; said Matthew Siemer, program and development manager for <a href="http://mobilecarechicago.org/">the Mobile C.A.R.E. foundation</a>.</p><p>His&nbsp;group runs&nbsp;a mobile asthma clinic that treats poor and uninsured patients with respiratory problems.</p><p>&ldquo;Respiratory illnesses like asthma and COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], which have been linked to poor air quality, affect 25 percent of low-income residents. These diseases are costly, debilitating, and can even fatal when they aren&rsquo;t regularly treated.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not the first time the area has flunked an ALA examination. In January the organization said <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/study-gives-illinois-fs-tobacco-prevention-and-support-quitting-smoking-104978">Illinois needed to invest more to reduce tobacco consumption</a>. They gave the state Fs for tobacco prevention and support for smokers trying to quit. Cook County <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2012/04/26/cook_county_air_quality_gets_an_f.php">received an F in last year&#39;s &quot;State of the Air&quot; report, too</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cook-air-quality.jpg" title="The number of high-ozone days in Chicago has fallen over the years, but still exceeds safety standards. (Courtesy American Lung Association)" /></div></p> Wed, 24 Apr 2013 16:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/cook-countys-air-quality-gets-f-american-lung-association-106828