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Fairfield County Lays Claim To Worst Ozone Pollution In The Northeast

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Air quality in our region continues to rank among the worst in the country. The 2018 State of the Air Report from the American Lung Association gave failing grades in air quality to most of the counties in the region.

Every county in Connecticut received an F for air quality except for Windham, which received a D. Fairfield County recorded the worst ozone pollution in the Northeast.

Michael Seilback, with the American Lung Association’s Northeast Region, said, “Our report showed that Fairfield County is the worst ozone pollutant county of any county east of the Mississippi River.”

New York didn’t fare much better. Suffolk and Westchester Counties both received F’s. Putnam and Dutchess got D’s, while Columbia and Nassau Counties didn’t collect data.

“The Northeast is often referred to as the tailpipe of the nation. What that means is air pollution from things like coal-fired power plants in the Midwest or other power plants in Pennsylvania end up settling over our region,” Seilback said.

The national report gives grades based on how many high-ozone days a specific county had between 2014 and 2016.

Ozone naturally shields the planet from the sun's ultraviolet rays when it is high in the atmosphere. But ground level ozone, often called smog, is dangerous.

“Ozone literally can make people sick and send them to the hospital.”

Seilback says even though most New York and Connecticut residents live in areas of high air pollution, the air is much cleaner now than a decade ago.

He says that trend is likely to continue as long as the federal government continues to enforce air quality standards, which the Trump administration has proposed loosening.