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Published: Friday, 4/29/2011

Cleaning Ohio air

While industry groups lobby Congress to weaken the Clean Air Act, the American Lung Association has assessed air quality on Ohio and across the nation. The grades are not good.

This year's edition of the association's "State of the Air" report notes marked improvements in some areas, but still-dangerous pollution levels in others. It concludes that Ohio needs all the help it can get to fight smog and particle pollution from a combination of industry, vehicle traffic, and coal-fired power plants.

Some Ohio counties got higher marks this year for curbing ozone emissions, the most widespread air pollutant. But Lucas County was not one of them: It got a failing grade -- again -- for ozone levels and a "C" for the amount of local soot or particle pollution. Wood and Allen counties showed progress in controlling ozone pollutants, the report said, but don't monitor levels of fine particles.

At the same time, the report notes positive trends in Ohio metropolitan areas in improved air quality. American Lung Association president Charles Connor credits the Clean Air Act and observes that "cleaning up pollution results in healthier air to breathe."

But he also noted that much work remains to be done. Nearly half of all Americans -- 154.5 million people -- still breathe air that is dangerously polluted, the report estimates.

This is not the time to weaken rules that are protecting public health from dirty air that remains too prevalent.

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