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Western NY

American Lung Association releases State of the Air 2011 Report

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Rochester: State of the Air 2011 report released
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More than nine million New Yorkers are breathing in unhealthy air which could threaten their health and their lives. That's according to the State of the Air 2011 Report just released by the American Lung Association. As YNN's Erin Connolly tells us, no county in the entire state got above a C in air quality.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Cs, Ds and Fs. Those are the grades for air quality for the 34 counties tested in New York State. In fact, the State of the Air 2011 Report by the American Lung Association shows 16 of the 34 actually failed.

Michael Seilback of the American Lung Association said, ''This report showed once again that far too many New Yorkers are breathing unhealthy air.''

A county's score is based in part on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's color coded air quality index. It also uses EPA data collected from pollution monitors installed in the counties.

Seilback said, ''People used to think of air pollution as only a downstate problem, but this report shows that whether you live in Amagansett or Amherst, Saratoga or Staten Island, air pollution affects more New Yorkers.

And Seilback says unhealthy air is a serious cause for concern because it can lead to coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks, heart attacks or even premature death.

Seilback said, ''When ozone is breathed in, it's like a gas and it's like getting a bad sunburn on the tissue of your lungs. The other pollutant we look at is particle pollution, which some people think of as soot. When that is breathed into your lungs, it's like taking a piece of sand paper and literally rubbing it along the tissue of the lungs.''

On the upside, the report did show that efforts to clean up air pollution, like the Clean Air Act, are making a difference.

Seilback said, ''Things like turning off the lights, using less electricity, car pooling, using mass transit but it's also making sure our elected officials are staying the course.''

Proof that doing your part, can help many breathe cleaner air.

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