Air pollution in metro Atlanta getting worse, health experts say

They say it’s getting worse, and with more people heading outside as the weather warms up, advocates are concerned about the air we breathe. 

“We saw slight increase in ozone pollution and slight increase in fine particle pollution,” said June Deen with the American Lung Association.

Deen told Channel 2’s Linda Stouffer researchers analyzed pollution data from 2014 to 2016.

On the 2018 " State of the Air " list of most polluted cities, metro Atlanta ranks 22nd for particle pollution and 23rd for ozone.

By comparison, Anchorage, Alaska is the cleanest. For ozone, Los Angeles is the worst.

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You cannot see the pollution in the air, but over time and on high level days, people in at risk groups can feel it.

“Coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks, and if you get partial pollution in your lungs, it’s so small that you can’t see it, but it can begin to affect your health,” said Britney Reddick with the American Lung Association. “A lot of people don’t know that lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer of men and women in the United States.”

The American Lung Association says what's surprising is the pollution uptick comes after several years of air quality getting better in metro Atlanta, and they are seeing longer term improvements in the state overall.

“In the past, we have seen some real improvement due to the Clean Air Act,” said Reddick. 

She says people should use mass transit whenever possible. Experts also encourage the community to be aware of air quality warning days, often the hottest days of summer. 

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