As nearly anyone could ascertain, air does not know man-made boundaries. Wind may be redirected by physical obstacles such as mountains and valleys but does not stop at toll booths or hesitate at county lines before crossing. That being stated, it is also intuitive that locations where air pollution is created, the quality of that air will be at its lowest, dissipating as the wind carries the particulates in all directions.
These assumptions are reinforced by the data that was recently released by the American Lung Association – a report card for air quality, broken down state by state and county by county. And while we all share a concern for the quality of the air that anyone in the world is breathing, it is human nature to first be concerned with the health of ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors.
The Full United States Report is available HERE and you may view the status of your own county by clicking on the state in which you reside.
What is most disturbing about reading through the report is the shockingly high number of F’s that were received by counties in the two states that Neighborhood Sun is operating in the number of high ozone days. It may be hard to imagine that pollution can be invisible, but ozone begins that way. It is only when ozone mixes with other pollutants (and ozone, being O3, mixes easily) that it becomes visible and is referred to by its street name – smog. The two largest sources of ozone are from fossil fuel burning utilities and from fossil fuel burning vehicles.
The health impacts of ozone/smog are well-documented, and in fact it is one of the original 6 pollutants identified in the Clean Air Act as being in drastic need of reduction. People most at risk from breathing air containing ozone include people with asthma, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors, especially outdoor workers.
Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and airway inflammation. It also can reduce lung function and harm lung tissue. Ozone can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma, leading to increased medical care.
It is our mission to help our states achieve their goals of 100% renewable sources of power over the next couple decades, if not sooner. Switching to community solar not only attacks the largest source of ground level ozone creation, it allows participants to save money at the same time, hurting the polluting utility industry where they feel it most – their bottom line.