American Lung Association Report Sheds Light On Idaho Air Pollution

Apr 20, 2018

The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report finds a pocket of eastern Idaho is one of the most polluted in the nation.
Credit John Westrock / Flickr

The American Lung Association is out with its annual State of the Air report, and the findings about Idaho are mixed.

Franklin County, in the southeast corner of the Gem State, lies in one of the most polluted areas in the nation for particulates known as PM2.5.

“PM2.5 is small enough to stay in our lungs, and over time can lead to exacerbations of existing lung conditions and can also lead to new lung disease,” says Heather Kimmel, the executive director of the American Lung Association in Idaho.

She says the high volume of particulates in the rural area are likely due to smoke from wildfires. Coming in as the eleventh worst for particulate pollution in the nation is actually a step up for Franklin County; last year it came in at eighth.

Findings are varied when it comes to ozone pollution. Parts of eastern Idaho received an “A” grade, but Boise got a “D.”

“It’s not technically failing, but, when I was in school, I didn’t want to earn a ‘D,’” says Kimmel. “That was not a grade I was particularly proud of. So, I think what it shows us is that there is work to be done to improve our air quality here in Boise.”

According to Kimmel, the Treasure Valley’s ozone pollution could go down if automobile traffic is reduced. She suggests carpooling, riding a bike to work or taking advantage of mass transit.

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