“State of the Air”

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – You may not often think about the quality of air you’re breathing. But a new study out gives us all pause for thought. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, some of what we’re inhaling in northeastern and central Pennsylvania is harmful.

Erica Viola picked a good reason for a run on Wednesday. “For my health. Get some fresh air since it’s nice today.” The Scranton woman also picked a good spot: the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail in Scranton. “There’s a lot more trees, a lot more open air compared to running near the courthouse or anywhere in the city.”

But what exactly is in the air? Melissa Hughes of Scott Township who was walking the trail with her service dog “Argos” said, “I don’t really put a lot of thought into it.”

The American Lung Association did. It’s just out with its “State of the Air” report. It gauged the air we breathe from 2015 to 2017. And in Lackawanna County, it tracked seven unhealthy days of smog known as ozone pollution which typically comes from vehicles, power plants and chemical factories. For that, Lackawanna County got a “D”.

Some of us may be inclined to just brush off the report saying it’s no big deal. But those in the medical field say ozone pollution is downright dangerous. Delta Medix Pulmonologist Terrence Lenahan, MD said, “All of us are at risk if the air is carrying relatively toxic substances.”

It’s an even bigger threat for people with respiratory illnesses. Dr. Lenahan said, “The impact of anything in the environment is going to be worse as you go from asthma which is considered a reversible disease process to emphysema which is an irreversible disease process.” 

A serious concern for people who are otherwise healthy like Ms. Viola. “I have some people in my family that have breathing issues so it gets kind of tough for them if there are those conditions outside.” It’s also a concern for how we are harming the atmosphere. Ms. Hughes said, “(It) does make me think sometimes you know what’s going to happen down the line having grandchildren or their children.”

The American Lung Association reports ozone pollution levels have dramatically dropped the last two decades. Some counties scored well. Bradford County earned an “A” while Luzerne and Lycoming Counties graded a “B”.
 


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