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Poor air quality persists in Fairfield County

Emissions rise from three large smokestacks at a coal-fired power plant in Castle Dale, Utah, in 2017. Democratic presidential candidates are releasing plans to reduce U.S. emissions in order to head off the most dangerous consequences of global warming.
Emissions rise from three large smokestacks at a coal-fired power plant in Castle Dale, Utah, in 2017.

A new report from the American Lung Association finds that Fairfield County has some of the most polluted air in America. It also has the highest ozone reading in the eastern United States.

For more than two decades, the association has tracked exposure to unhealthy air across the United States. The report uses data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality System.

The association’s latest report said Connecticut’s ozone, or “smog,” pollution levels are improving. But Fairfield County continues to have the most polluted air in the New York-Newark metro area.

“Although the area did see an improvement in the levels of ozone pollution, Connecticut – and particularly Fairfield County – still has a long way to go towards cleaning up the air we breathe,” Ruth Canovi, director of advocacy for the association in Connecticut, said in a statement.

Ozone pollution can bring on asthma attacks and cause cardiovascular damage in certain vulnerable populations.

For years, advocates have said upwind states need to do more to clean up pollution carried by prevailing winds into Connecticut.

Updated: April 21, 2022 at 12:56 PM EDT
This story has been updated.
Patrick Skahill is a reporter at Connecticut Public. He covers science and the environment. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.