Lung Association Gives Lehigh Valley an "F"

Air pollution in the county, Bethlehem area, hasn't improved, says American Lung Association report.


Northampton County and Lehigh County both got a score of "F" for their levels of ozone in a new report by the American Lung Association.

The association's 2012 "State of the Air" report also found that the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metro area ranks among the 35 most polluted cities in the nation for ozone and daily and year-round particle pollution.

In this case, "ozone" and "particle pollution" are just another way of saying "smog" and "soot."

Are you someone with some sort of respiratory problem? Have you noticed a change in the air? Let us know in the comments section.

This is the the region failed to meet the ALA's standards for pollution. It has gotten worse when it comes to short-term and long-term particle pollution, the report says.

“State of the Air shows that we’re making steady progress in cutting dangerous pollution from the air as a result of cleanup efforts required under the Clean Air Act," Deb Brown, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, said in a news release. 

"But millions of Americans across the country, including residents of the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metro area, are still forced to breathe unhealthy levels of air pollution as a result of air quality standards that are outdated."

Northampton and Lehigh counties are alone in getting "Fs" for ozone level. A majority of Pennsylvania's counties scored the same way.

Only one county -- Cambria -- received a B, the highest grade in the report for Pennsylvania. There were six counties that got a "C" and five that got a "D." 

Among the other findings:

  • Nearly 10 percent of the Valley's population -- close to 62,000 out of nearly 650,000 -- has asthma.
  • 22,248 people have chronic bronchitis.
  • 10,914 people have emphysema.
  • 181,829 people have cardiovascular disease.
Stephen Kindel April 30, 2012 at 06:29 PM
The disease numbers are somewhat misleading. First, many residents of the valley contracted lung diseases and related ailments when the steel mills were still open, which is now a generation past. Second, the Lehigh Valley has the oldest average population in the U.S. -- older than Florida or other retirement states. It's not surprising that there is so much heart disease here. Third, this IS a valley, ringed by hills that are high enough to trap air. Though there is not much polluting industry, whatever emissions there are -- from cars, fireplaces and furnaces -- remains in the air longer. Finally, the report is incomplete because it does not pinpoint the causes of pollution in the valley. Steve Kindel
tom gillilan April 30, 2012 at 06:35 PM
WE ARE ABOUT TO ENTER A NEW ERA Low cost air sensors are about to enter the consumer market this year for the first time ever. We will no longer be dependent upon professional liars to tell us just what is in the air that we do breathe. We will be able to measure it ourselves. We will also be able to network with an active community of fellow concerned citizens. The air many of us breathe is far far worse than authorities are willing to measure or admit.
Julie Burgo May 01, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Tom Gillilan I am tying to contact you. Would like to connect you with more that feel the same way you do. Clean Air Revival has a discussion forum and we have a big group on facebook too. Love the way you think and write! Julie


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