For Immediate Release
April 27, 2011
Vermont counties score average and above average grades in American Lung Association’s Annual State of the Air Report
Williston — The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2011 report gave Chittenden, Bennington and Rutland counties above average grades for particle pollution (soot) and Chittenden and Bennington counties average scores for ozone (smog). Burlington was tied for 24th in the top 25 cleanest cities for annual particle pollution. This year’s report finds that the majority of American cities most-polluted by ozone or year-round particle pollution have improved, thanks to continued progress in the cleanup of deadly toxics required by the Clean Air Act.
The Lung Association’s annual air quality report reveals that just over half the nation—154.5 million people—live in areas with levels of ozone and/or particle pollution that are often dangerous to breathe. Even though so many people live in areas where bad air can make them sick, some members of Congress are proposing changes to the Clean Air Act that would weaken the enforcement needed to continue to reduce air pollution, threatening human health.
“State of the Air 2011 tells us that the Clean Air Act is working; it has had 40 years of success in driving pollution levels down and saving lives.” said Kent Booraem, American Lung Association in Vermont leadership board member. “The Clean Air Act is the only and best defense against imported pollution from dirty power plants in the Midwest and South. The American Lung Association in Vermont will continue to fight to keep the Clean Air Act strong to protect everyone’s health.”
It takes more than the federal government to reduce sources of air pollution in Vermont. For example, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources’ Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has provided grants to schools for the early replacement of old school buses with new cleaner burning ones and retrofitting other buses with emission controls and auxiliary heater units to reduce diesel idling. According to Richard Valentinetti, director of DEC Air Pollution Control Division, “Well over 40 older school buses have been replaced by new buses with state-of-the-art emissions control systems and idle reduction technology. These new buses are up to 95 percent cleaner than many of the old buses they are replacing.
DEC has also provided funding to the American Lung Association for Vermont Idle-Free Fleets, a free program to help towns and businesses develop and implement idling reduction policies for their fleets. According to Wayne Michaud, program coordinator, the public works departments of Colchester, Williston, Milton and Winooski, the highway departments of Jericho, Mendon and Pittsford, the town of Shelburne, Koffee Kup Bakery and Keyser Energy have adopted idling reduction policies. Although bills have been introduced for the last six years in the legislature, Vermont is the only state in New England that does not limit idling of heavy-duty diesel vehicles. Representative Dave Sharpe, who has sponsored a bill the last four years noted, “Eliminating unnecessary diesel idling is a simple, yet effective way to reduce particulate pollution, nitrogen oxide and other dangerous air toxins. Vermont needs to implement a two-prong approach: pass a statewide law and educate drivers about the health, economic and environmental impacts of unnecessary idling.”
To view the entire State of the Air Report, visit www.stateoftheair.org. For more information about the American Lung Association, visit www.lungusa.org and for more information about Vermont Idle-Free Fleets, call 802-876-6860.