RICHMOND, Va.-- The American Lung Association just released its annual “State of the Air” report, and the Richmond metro area ranks in its list of top 25 cleanest U.S. cities for daily measure of fine particle pollution.
The capital city also improved to earned “A” grades for posting zero days high in this pollutant for the ninth consecutive year, and also improved to its best performance of ozone smog.
Henrico County received the worst grade in the metro area or ozone smog, coming in at a "B." While that ranking in Henrico was a step up from last year, Aleks Casper with the American Lung Association said there’s still work to be done.
“We have places like Richmond and other places in Virginia, that are doing really, really well," said Casper. "But the main point is that 40% of Americans are still living in a county or city where they're not being able to breathe clean air. That's the important takeaway here. And we need to continue to focus on measures to help make that a priority for people."
The American Lung Association said one day without clean air can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and stroke, placing children, older adults, and people living with chronic lung and heart disease at particular risk.
The association also noted fine particle pollution has been linked to causing more serious outcomes for those who contract COVID-19.
"People of color are 61% more likely to live in a county with a failing grade," Casper explained. "And so we really need to prioritize the health of those, those disproportionately burdened communities and the air that they're breathing.”
On Earth Day, the American Lung Association is encouraging people, specifically businesses, to think about choosing or building sources of clean, renewable electricity and maybe even consider driving electric vehicles.
The association also asks that people encourage their lawmakers to support clean energy legislation.
Other cities of note on this year's list were Charlottesville, which ranked in top five cleanest cities in the country. Meanwhile, the report finds Arlington is the 22nd worst in the nation for ozone pollution.