Delaware Public Media

American Lung Association: Air quality still a problem in New Castle County, but improving elsewhere

Apr 19, 2017

A new report shows Delaware’s air quality seems to be improving, but it still remains a problem in New Castle County.

 

 

 

New Castle County received failing grades for both high ozone days and particle pollution in the American Lung Association’s latest "State of the Air" report.

 

Kevin Stewart, Director of Environmental Health with the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic said the county consistently has bad air days because it is downwind from coal power plants in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But that’s not the only reason.

 

“In addition to these things that can happen nationwide and in upwind states from Delaware, individuals, by their own daily choices, also affect air quality,” Stewart said.

 

Those choices include residents using their cars for shorter trips or consuming too much electricity at home, which Stewart said also contribute to the county’s air pollution.

 

Kent County got an "A" for particle pollution and a "B" for ozone. Sussex County also got an "A" for particle pollution, and a "D" for ozone. In last year’s report, both Kent and Sussex County received an "F" for ozone and an "A" for particle pollution. Stewart said this is the first time Sussex County got a passing grade for ozone in the history of the report.

 

“Even though it’s just a 'D', it’s not anything great to tell mom about, but at the same time Sussex County’s D is a great measure of showing how it’s improved over the years,” Stewart said.

 

The reason for the county’s success over time, Stewart said, is the implementation of the Clean Air Act - the federal administration’s efforts to protect clean air for public health.

 

“We know that a great majority of the general public believe very strongly that air quality is necessary to be protected and they want to see the kinds of programs and standards that have been put in place remain in place,” Stewart said.

 

The State of the Air Report shows the annual progress counties in all 50 states make toward improving air quality. This year’s report covers data from 2013 to 2015.