North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern part of the United States. It has a population of nearly 10.5 million people. The state features a varied landscape, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean shore to the Appalachian Mountains.
Additionally, it houses both some of the cleanest and most polluted cities in the nation, as stated in the recent report from the American Lung Association.
The State of the Air Report
The American Lung Association’s yearly “State of the Air” report assesses the air quality in cities and counties across the United States. It evaluates levels of ozone (also known as smog) and particle pollution. Ozone is a harmful gas created when sunlight interacts with emissions from sources like vehicles and power plants.
Particle pollution, often referred to as soot, is a combination of tiny solids and liquids originating from sources like coal-fired power plants, wildfires, and diesel engines.
Both ozone and particle pollution can lead to serious health issues, including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, and premature death.
The report relies on data gathered from official air quality monitors spanning from 2016 to 2018. It assigns grades ranging from A to F to each city and county based on the number of days with unhealthy levels of ozone and particle pollution. Additionally, the report highlights the cities with the highest and lowest levels of pollution in each category.
The Most Polluted City in North Carolina
The report states that the city with the highest pollution levels in North Carolina is Hope Mills, a town in Cumberland County with a population of around 16,000 residents. Hope Mills received a grade of “F” for ozone pollution, experiencing 67 days of unhealthy air over a three-year period.
Additionally, it received a grade of “D” for particle pollution, with 3.4 days of unhealthy air. In terms of ozone pollution, Hope Mills ranked as the most polluted city in the nation, and it was the 153rd most polluted city for particle pollution.
The report attributes the elevated levels of ozone pollution in Hope Mills to several factors, including its proximity to major highways, the presence of industrial facilities, limited availability of public transportation, and the impacts of climate change.
Furthermore, the report highlights that Hope Mills is situated in an area prone to wildfires, which can contribute to particle pollution.
The Cleanest City in North Carolina
Wilmington, a port city in New Hanover County, with a population of about 123,000 people, is the cleanest city in North Carolina.
It received an “A” grade for both ozone and particle pollution, experiencing zero days of unhealthy air in the three-year period. Wilmington holds the title of the cleanest city in the nation for both categories, sharing this distinction with six other cities.
The report commended Wilmington for its initiatives to curb air pollution, such as enforcing stringent emission standards, advocating for renewable energy sources, expanding public transportation, and promoting green spaces.
Additionally, the report recognized Wilmington’s coastal location, which benefits from the sea breeze and lower temperatures.
The State of the Air report indicates that North Carolina experiences varying levels of air quality, influenced by factors like location, sources of pollution, and environmental improvement efforts.
Certain cities like Wilmington have attained commendable air quality, whereas places like Hope Mills have faced challenges with poor air quality.
The report calls upon both state and local governments, as well as residents, to take steps to safeguard the health and overall well-being of all North Carolinians.