Bucks County Ozone Earns Failing Grade

Gregory Vellner

County ozone test scores an F.Photo byNikonUnsplash

BRISTOL, Pa. -- Lower Bucks County schools won’t open for a few more weeks, but the area’s first report card has been issued – and it isn’t one for the Honor Roll.

The American Lung Association (ALA) has given an ‘F’ (for failure) to Bucks County for the unhealthy ozone content in its air. The only other county in Pennsylvania given an ‘F’ was Philadelphia County, and its ozone air aims right for Bucks County, said the ALA.

The organization’s annual “State of the Air” report examined 2019 through 2021 air quality data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency. The report then gave counties and metro areas nationwide a passing or failing grade.

Since 2000, the ALA has put a scale in place determining that 10 or more days with high ozone readings equals a failing grade. In the three-year period examined, Bucks County had 17 ozone readings of “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

“The lungs don’t care about what is causing dangerous air conditions, they simply react to the quality of the air they take in, and that is what we record and report,” said Kevin Steward, ALA Director of Environmental Health Advocacy and Public Policy. “I think too often we view these events as unavoidable accidents. Rather, it is human causation – much of it from climate change – that is exacerbating the risks of what we breathe.”

While the ALA said the levels of ozone in Bucks County have been trending dramatically downward since their report was first issued in 1998, ongoing pollution levels have eaten into deeper change.

“The real issue here stems from what we call the ‘wind rose’ – the direction the prevailing winds are coming from and how frequently they blow in a set direction,” said Stewart.

The wind flow from F-rated Philadelphia much of the time tends to move from the city toward the Bristol air monitor, situated in the southeast corner of Bucks County. By contrast, two air monitors in neighboring C-rated Montgomery County are upwind of Philadelphia, meaning the city makes less of an impact on their air quality readings.

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As a professional journalist for several years -- reporter, editor, feature writer, columnist -- I handled a range of subjects. Breaking news, investigative series, government action, feature events, and staff feature writer with national entertainment magazine interviewing stars including Tom Selleck, Mel Brooks and Danny DeVito. No matter the topic, certain ingredients are key: truth, facts, objectivity, balance.

Bucks County, PA

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