Harrisburg region gets another bad grade for air quality: Patriot News

April 28, 2010: Patriot News

Harrisburg region gets another bad grade for air quality

by David Wenner

The Harrisburg region has received another poor grade regarding air quality. The Harrisburg-Carlisle-Lebanon region ranks as the 22nd worst in the nation for short-term particle pollution in the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report.

Although the area’s air improved slightly, its ranking was slightly worse than in the previous report, when it ranked 24th worst. Particle pollution, known as soot, involves microscopic particles from sources such as cars and trucks, coal-fired power plants, construction sites and tilled fields. It can cause lung irritation for normal people and severe problems for people with lung conditions such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis and heart disease.

The region has long registered high levels of both particle and ozone pollution, causing groups such as the Clean Air Board of Central Pennsylvania to wage an ongoing push for policies aimed at reducing the problem. Much of the problem is attributed to its concentration of trucking and the presence of Interstate 81 and several other high-volume highways. There’s also the coal-fired power plant on Brunner Island near York Haven.

“I think there has been slight improvement over the years,” said Tom Au, president of the Clean Air Board. He noted a law that prevents truckers from idling their rigs during rest periods will take affect next month, impacting a major source of local air pollution.

You can search local air quality grades by zip code, and send messages to federal elected officials, at www.lungusa.org. Information about the “State of the Air” report can be found at www.stateoftheair.org.

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