LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Las Vegas ranked in 9th place as one of the worst cities for ozone pollution, according to the American Lung Association. The previous ranking was 13th place.
The association released its State of the Air report Tuesday which tracks Americans exposure to unhealthy levels of ozone pollution and particulate matter.
Clark County’s environmental department disagrees with the findings in the report, calling them “questionable” and said there has been a 12% reduction in ozone pollution since 2007.
“If we’re applying the American Lung Association’s arbitrary and subjective grading scale, anything below 99.2 percent is considered failing,” said Department of Environment and Sustainability Director Marci Henson. “That doesn’t make sense to us.”
Experts say there are several factors that can impact the ozone rating, especially during the summer months which are the hottest of the year. Strong sunlight, gasoline and chemical vapors, and wildfires contribute to the problem.
“This is important because unhealthy air impacts all Americans, especially children, those over the age of 65, those with constructive pulmonary disease or asthma, even people who have lung cancer or cardiovascular disease. Also, healthy people can experience shortness of breath or coughing when air pollutants are high,” said JoAnna Strother, American Lung Association.
Henson argues that according to the EPA, Clark County’s air quality is in attainment for five of the six criteria pollutants it is required to monitor: carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide.
The report also measured particulate pollution and found “year-round particle pollution levels had dropped in recent years thanks to the cleanup of coal-fired power plants and the retirement of old, dirty diesel engines. However, the increase we’ve seen nationally in particle pollution in this year’s report is a troubling reminder that we must increase our efforts to reduce this dangerous pollution,” said Strother.
The report found that Las Vegas had more days when short-term particle pollution reached unhealthy levels causing it to rank 25th on a list of most polluted cities.