5/1/12 – 2012 Air Quality Forecasting Season Kicks Off Amid News That St. Louis is Among the Nation’s Most Polluted Cities

ST. LOUIS, MO., May 1, 2012 . . . With air quality forecasting officially set to begin today for the 2012 summer season, the latest State of the Air report from the American Lung Association has ranked the St. Louis area as one of the most polluted cities in the nation by year-round particle pollution. According to the report, St. Louis currently ranks 10th in the nation for year-round particle pollution and 34th in the nation for ozone pollution. The news comes as the region prepares to settle into the summer months when air quality conditions are typically at their worst, prompting the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership to step up its efforts to educate area residents on how the emissions-reducing actions they take can play a role in improving air quality conditions across the region.

“This year’s State of the Air report has once again reaffirmed what a critical concern air pollution continues to be for our region,” said Susannah Fuchs, senior director of environmental health for the American Lung Association of the Plains-Gulf region. “Both particle pollution and ozone pollution, which is a concern for the area during summer months, can negatively affect the health of all of us, especially children, the elderly and the many individuals who suffer from respiratory disease. But, the good news is there are a variety of steps that all of us can take in our daily lives to help ensure that air quality conditions remain in the healthy range this summer and year-round.”

With transportation having the most profound impact on air quality, making the choice to drive less is an easy way to help reduce the emissions that lead to poor air quality. Actions like using transit, carpooling and vanpooling, combining errands into a single trip, telecommuting and walking and biking more to get around town help take cars off area roads along with the related emissions. These actions are especially critical when poor air conditions are in the forecast. In addition, the many green lifestyle changes we choose to make can also positively impact air quality and improve lung health in the region. These changes include efforts to conserve energy, recycle, reduce waste and reuse items.

As air quality forecasting gets underway for 2012, area residents are encouraged to visit the Clean Air Partnership’s website at www.cleanair-stlouis.com and sign up to receive the daily forecast in their email inboxes via the Environmental Protection Agency’s EnviroFlash air quality alert system. Individuals can also find the forecast on the Clean Air Partnership’s Facebook page or follow the organization on Twitter @gatewaycleanair for daily updates.

“While the results of the 2012 State of the Air report are disappointing for the St. Louis region, we hope that the news will help drive home how important it is for area residents to stay up-to-date on air quality conditions this summer and encourage the public to get engaged in the clean air effort by taking steps to reduce emissions so the region can breathe easier,” said Fuchs.

To learn more about the health effects of poor air quality and steps you can take to improve air quality at home, at work and on the road, log on to www.cleanair-stlouis.com.  To access the American Lung Association’s 2012 State of the Air report, visit www.stateoftheair.org.

The St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership was formed in 1995, led by the American Lung Association, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Washington University and others, to increase awareness of regional air quality issues and to encourage activities to reduce air pollution emissions.

For more information, contact:

Shelene Treptow, The Hauser Group, (314) 436-9090

Susannah Fuchs, American Lung Association of the Plains-Gulf Region, (314) 645-5505, ext. 1007