Study: Wyoming’s Air Quality Has Gotten Worse
Written by Mac Watson on April 19, 2023
Wyoming’s air quality has gotten worse since last year’s report, according to the American Lung Association’s 2023 “State of the Air” report, which was released today. After ranking among the nation’s cleanest cities for ozone pollution in last year’s report, Cheyenne’s grade fell from A to F in this year’s report. Nationally, the report found that nearly 120 million people, or more than one in three, in the U.S. live in counties that had unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.
The Lung Association’s 24th annual “State of the Air” report grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone air pollution, annual particle pollution and short-term spikes in particle pollution over a three-year period. This year’s report covers 2019-2021.
“This year’s report shows the importance of staying vigilant when it comes to air quality,” said Nick Torres, advocacy director for the Lung Association. “Even one poor air quality day is one too many for our residents at highest risk, such as children, older adults, those who are pregnant and those living with chronic disease. That’s why we are calling on lawmakers at the local, state, and federal levels to take action to ensure that everyone has clean air to breathe.”
Nationally, the report found that ozone pollution has generally improved across the nation, thanks in large part to the success of the Clean Air Act. However, more work remains to fully clean up harmful pollution, and short-term particle pollution continues to get worse. In addition, some communities bear a greater burden of air pollution. Out of the nearly 120 million people who live in areas with unhealthy air quality, a disproportionate number – more than 64 million (54%) – are people of color. In fact, people of color were 64% more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade for at least one measure, and 3.7 times as likely to live in a county with failing grades for all three measures.
Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Wyoming
Compared to the 2022 report, many Wyoming counties experienced significant increases in unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. After being recognized among the nation’s healthiest cities for ozone pollution in last year’s report, Laramie County’s grade for ozone pollution fell from A to F in “State of the Air” 2023. Albany County’s grade dropped from C to F, and Campbell County went from a B in the 2022 report to an F in this year’s report. Sublette County experienced more unhealthy ozone days on average and maintained its F grade. Weston County was the only county to record a slight improvement in ozone pollution compared with last year’s report.
Particle Pollution in Wyoming
The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. Cheyenne’s levels stayed the same on average in this year’s report, maintaining a grade of D. Campbell, Fremont, Sublette, Sweetwater, and Teton counties each experienced more unhealthy short-term particle pollution days on average compared with last year’s report. Park and Sheridan counties each experienced improvements in short-term particle pollution, and Sheridan County earned a spot among the nation’s cleanest counties in this category.
The 2023 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in Cheyenne were slightly higher than in last year’s report. The area still earned a spot among the nation’s cleanest cities for annual particle pollution, dropping from #1 to #3 in “State of the Air” 2023.
The American Lung Association is calling on President Biden to urgently move forward on several measures to clean up air pollution nationwide, including new pollution limits on ozone and particle pollution and new measures to clean up power plants and vehicles. See the full report results and sign the petition at Lung.org/SOTA.