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Cook County Air Quality Gets An 'F'

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Apr 26, 2012 9:20PM

The American Lung Association released its annual "State of the Air" report card, and we failed. Cook County received a grade of "F" and an "unhealthy" rating for having a high number of "ozone days" and days with elevated "particle pollution." The collar counties fared better, though. Dupage, Will and McHenry all pulled As, and Kane got a B and Lake slipped by with a C.

Things are getting better overall, though, and hopefully Chicago's air quality goes up in the coming years as the Fisk and Crawford coal plants are slated to close in 2014. Nationwide things are going even better. CNN writes:

In its annual State of the Air 2012 report, the organization said that between 2001 and 2010, ozone levels dropped 13%, year-round particle pollution declined 24% and short-term particle pollution 28% thanks to the Clean Air Act.

Particle pollution includes things like dust, metals, smoke, exhaust and acids, like nitrates and sulfates. Ozone, meanwhile, is created when a chemical or fossil fuel, like coal or gasoline, is partially burned and the unburned hydrocarbons, when combined with ultraviolet light, form a gas.

The number of "High Ozone Days" in Chicago has been steadily declining since 2005, and it's getting close to the "passing level." If we clean up our act this year, maybe we can pull out a D.