HAMPSHIRE COUNTY, Mass (WGGB)- Nearly 2- million people in Massachusetts live in counties with failing or near failing air quality.
The American Lung Association assigns letter grades to counties based on ozone levels detected by data stations. This year Hampden County has improved by one letter grade, moving from an “F” to a “D.” Although, Hampshire County gets an “F,” failing.
“It depends on the number of days per year that the ozone levels are considered acceptable levels,” says Dr. Paul Salva.
This year there were 10 days in Orange Zone for Hampshire County, which by definition, means that air conditions are unhealthy for sensitive groups.
The groups most at risk are young children, elderly, and those who are ill.
Air Quality does become more of a problem in the summer months.
“We actually have things we call summer-snow days , where we call our patients and tell them it is an unhealthy breathing day.. We tell them it’s a day to stay home,” says Donna Hawk, a registered Respiratory Therapist.
Much of the polluted air has to do with our geography here in Western Mass. Experts call it the “tail pipe” of the country because polluted air blows in from the South and from the West. And because we are located in a valley, the polluted air settles.
“We can’t control what’s going on in Ohio, Indiana anywhere out West, but we can control our use of cars, our use cigarette smoke, and we can control the use of wood burning stoves,” adds Dr. Salva.