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Ozone Pollution Remains a Problem in Hampden and Hampshire Counties

(SPRINGFIELD, Mass.) (WGGB)–Parts of Western Massachusetts get failing grades when it comes to air quality.

A report by the American Lung Association gives Hampden and Hampshire Counties an “F” when it comes to ozone pollution.

Asthma rates here in Western Massachusetts are higher than the state average.

A lot of that has to do with the geography of the area.

We’re in the Pioneer Valley.

So the results of the lung associations’ report doesn’t surprise Baystate Health Respiratory Therapist Donna Hawk,”We’re really the tail end of the air flow in the country , the pollutants that come from the Midwest, and from New York, Pennsylvania, really end up here and affect our air quality,” says Hawk.

And when you live in an area with poor air quality, Hawk says breathing becomes a serious problem for those who are compromised, like people with asthma,” Its like breathing in soup, and they describe it that way because it’s so hard to breathe and they complain that it feels like it’s burning,” says Donna Hawk.

Hampden and Hampshire counties aren’t the only ones receiving failing grades when it comes to air pollution, four other counties across the state received grades of “F” as well .

Donna Hawk says poor air quality is a serious concern,” It’s serious not only for children , the elders, and those with lung disease, but adolescents, children, who are developing their lungs, and  it actually has a chemical effect within the lung tissue itself,” says Hawk.

What’s the worst time? It’s usually late afternoon on hot, humid summer days when the sun heats up those pollutants.

Look for the smog alerts and on those days minimize your activity outdoors.

Berkshire County was one of five counties across the state showing improvement in ozone pollution levels .

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