New Jersey’s smog problem continues to worsen as the 2019 State of the Air report from the American Lung Association shows 10 counties rated F, the worst grade possible for ozone air quality, also known as ground-level air pollution or smog.
The ratings were compiled and examined from a Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study. The EPA study gathered data on air quality from metro areas across the US between 2015 and 2017. These metro areas include New York-Newark, Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, and the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area, which includes Warren County, NJ.
The American Lung Association
divided this data by county, so we can see how different NJ counties stack up against each other in ozone air quality and particle pollution.
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Ground-Level Ozone (Smog)
Although the ozone layer is an important shield from the sun’s ultraviolet rays when it’s high in the stratosphere, when ozone is present at the ground level, it can be harmful to our health when inhaled. Ground-level ozone, or smog, is known to cause
breathing problems, an increased risk of stroke, and premature death.
According to the study, smog has increased in the Garden State, with Camden County showing the worst figures. With an average of 10.8 high ozone level days per year, Camden’s smog problem has gotten worse
two years in a row.
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In addition to Camden, the other counties to receive an F rating are Bergen, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Passaic counties. Essex and Morris counties received D ratings and Atlantic, Cumberland, and Warren counties received C ratings. All other counties were not included in the study.
Overall, the New York-Newark metro area is the 10th worst in the nation for ozone,
remaining steady since the last report. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia-Reading-Camden area fell three spots since the last report and is now at 21st
place for worst ozone levels.
Particle Pollution (Soot)
Particle pollution, or soot, is comprised of minuscule particles that enter the air after wildfires, burning coal, firing up older diesel engines, or other combustive sources. These small materials can become lodged deep in a person’s lungs, triggering respiratory problems,
illness, and premature death.
Thankfully, NJ faired well with soot pollution. Nine counties received an A rating,
the highest rating possible, including Atlantic, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, and Warren counties.
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