Parish air passes test for first time in 15 years
In a recent report released by the ALA, the parish received a “C” grade. This is the first time in 15 years that the parish has earned a passing grade.
The association began reporting on air quality throughout Louisiana in 1996 and has given St. Charles an “F” every year until now.
This year’s report reflects data collected on ozone levels from 2007 to 2009. The report shows that during that time, St. Charles only experienced five days when the ozone levels in the air were unhealthy for sensitive people. There were no days that were considered unhealthy or very unhealthy for the average population.
Ozone is air pollution that can cause health problems and lung disease. Ozone can be caused by a variety of factors, including vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions.
“Ozone…is almost like a sunburn on your lungs. When you inhale the ozone it irritates your lungs and can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and other health affects,” said Erin Eveker, with the American Lung Association.
The association attributes decreases in ozone levels to the cleaning up of coal fire power plants and the conversion of fleets of buses and trucks to low-emission vehicles.
On the individual level, Eveker said that residents can do a few things to help lower the parish’s air pollution, including driving less or carpooling more, not burning trash and using less electricity. She also said it is important that people look out for their own health by not exercising on high-pollution days or near busy streets and highways.
Residents can check www.airnow.gov to see pollution notifications each day.
“Air pollution in general affects everyone, but particularly children whose lungs are still developing, older people and anyone with existing diseases,” Eveker said.
According to the report, almost the entire parish population is at a higher risk for health problems related to air pollution. Included in the groups at high risk are the 1,302 children with pediatric asthma, 2,375 residents with adult asthma, 1,302 with chronic bronchitis, 768 with emphysema, 13,477 with cardiovascular disease and 4,060 parishioners with diabetes. The 13,858 children under 18 years old and 5,100 adults over the age of 65 are also considered to be at higher risk for problems associated with air pollution.
Eveker said that while the parish passed the ozone test this time, the work to try to clean up the air is not over.
“Although the grade is an improvement, there is still a lot of dirty air,” she said. “We need to continue working to protect the air we all breathe.”
Neighboring parishes of St. John and Jefferson did not receive passing grades. Both parishes received an “F” rating for ozone pollution.
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