AP NEWS

Connecticut, Fairfield County flunk on air quality

April 18, 2018

Fairfield County is one of the most ozone-polluted counties in the country and Connecticut has some of the worst air quality east of the Mississippi.

That’s according to the American Lung Association’s 2018 State of the Air report, released Wednesday. Published annually, State of the Air is a report card ranking states, metropolitan areas and counties nationwide on air quality, specifically ozone pollution (also known as smog) and particle pollution (also called soot).

“Connecticut does fair pretty poorly, especially when it comes to ozone,” said Ruth Canovi, director of public policy for the American Lung Association in Connecticut. She added that part of the problem is that much of the country’s air pollution ends up settling in the Northeast, including Connecticut.

“Some people refer to Connecticut as the tailpipe of the nation,” Canovi said.

The report ranked every county in the state on ozone pollution and particle pollution. All Connecticut counties received a failing grade on ozone pollution, except Windham County, which received a D. Fairfield County ranked as the 19th most ozone-polluted county in the nation and the only one in the list not in the Western states. The city of Hartford ranked as the 20th most ozone-polluted city in the U.S.

Connecticut fared better when it came to particle pollution — which is made of tiny particles, such as those from coal-fired power plants, wood-burning devices and other places. Fairfield, Litchfield and New London counties all received Bs in particle pollution, while Hartford County received a A and New Haven County got a C.

The remaining counties didn’t have a monitor collecting data and didn’t receive a grade.

However, while particle pollution in New Haven and Hartford counties was slightly lower in this year’s report than that recorded in the 2017 report, it was slightly higher in Fairfield County.

Overall, the report found that, though air quality nationwide has improved in recent years, more than four in 10 Americans — 133.9 million people — live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

Canovi said poor air quality carries health risks ranging from asthma attacks to lung diseases such as COPD. The point of the report is make residents, lawmakers and others aware of issues with air quality in the state and communities. “We want to inspire people to pay attention to air quality,” Canovi said. “There are a lot of people at risk.”