Central PA has worse air quality than Philly or Pittsburgh


It’s no secret that Pennsylvania, or parts of it, looks sick.

York County, for example, is consistently among the state’s leaders in poor air quality, recording the most days per year with unhealthy levels of ozone and particulate pollution.

And a new study by environmental and public policy groups concludes that in 2020, central Pennsylvania topped the state in number of days with unhealthy air quality, the region of York-Hanover ranked fourth in recording the number of days with high air levels. pollution at age 65.

Air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels has an adverse effect on health, say pollution reduction advocates.  A new report by environmental and policy advocates calls for reduced dependence on fossil fuels and increased use of renewable energy.

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The study, conducted by the Penn Environment Research and Policy Center and the Frontier Group, gathered the number of days that certain geographic areas had high amounts of ozone and particulate matter in the air – pollution that may be linked to a number of health problems, due to the increase in cases. asthma, high risk of cancer and dangerous cardiovascular disease.

He revealed that Lancaster County recorded the highest number of poor air quality days in the state in 2020, at 107.

The Harrisburg-Carlisle region was second, at 97. Reading was third, at 82.

In contrast, neighboring Lebanon’s county ranked weak, with just 26 days of unhealthy air. This county has had zero days of high ozone and only 26 days of high particulate matter in the air.

The counties of central Pennsylvania did worse than the state’s urban centers, the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pittsburgh area and the New York-Newark-Jersey City area, which encompasses the northeastern corner of the Commonwealth .

Researchers looked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air pollution records to determine which areas had the most days with unhealthy levels of ozone and particulate pollution, which comes primarily from burning fossil fuels and forest fires. The report’s authors wrote that climate change has exacerbated the problem.

“The burning of fossil fuels is the main source of human-made air pollution – and the main driver of global warming, which threatens to worsen air quality in the years to come,” the report says. .

The report, released Tuesday, found that although poor air quality remains a persistent problem in Pennsylvania, solutions are “easily achievable,” according to a press release. The report’s authors call for reducing dependence on fossil fuels, increasing the use of renewables and electric vehicles, and strengthening federal air quality standards.

The report cites measures in the Infrastructure Bill now blocked in Congress that would fund clean transportation projects, increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations, and make other investments that lead to cleaner air and cleaner air. the fight against climate change.

“Our future can truly be better and healthier if we clean our air,” said Eve Lukens-Day, Global Warming Solutions Associate at the Environment America Research & Policy Center in a press release. “Removing pollution from all aspects of our lives will protect our lungs and our climate at the same time. “

US Representative Dwight Evans, a Democrat from Philadelphia, reportedly said: “Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to breathe clean, healthy air. … The limits of pollution and the adoption of bold climate action like the current version of the Build Back Better bill. “

Columnist / journalist Mike Argento has been a staff member of Daily Record since 1982. Contact him at 717-772-2046 or [email protected]

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