Cape Cod gets an "F" for air

We receive a failing grade in the American Lung Association's "State of the Air Report" for 2005

CAPE COD, April 28, 2005 Barnstable County (Cape Cod) in Massachusetts, has received a failing grade in the American Lung Association's State of the Air: 2005 report, released today. 

We call on Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry to stand up to corporate polluters and help us clean up our air."

The report ranks the cities and counties with the dirtiest air, and provides county-level report cards on the two most pervasive air pollutants: particle pollution and ozone (more commonly called smog).  According to the report, 6,334,893 people in Massachusetts are breathing air with dangerously high levels of ozone.

Since the state's estimated population is 6,427,801, that's nearly every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth.

Every year since the first State of the Air report was issued in 2000 (which covered data from 1996 to 1998), Barnstable County has received an "F" grade. Barnstable County is also ranked as the worst county in Massachusetts for ozone air pollution! .  

Our own Canal Power plant above, and the Brayton Point plant west of the cape, are among the EPA's "Dirty Dozen".

"Getting an F means that dirty air threatens the lives and health of far too many of our neighbors," said Jeffrey Seyler, CEO, of the American Lung Association of Massachusetts. "Some in Congress have played into the hands of polluters who want to change the rules so they can continue to dirty our air for years to come. We call on Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry to stand up to corporate polluters and help us clean up our air." 

Report Shows That Massachusetts's High Pollution Levels Threaten Lives

The 2005 report cites recently published studies showing that as ozone levels increase, the risk of premature death increases as well. Ozone is an extremely reactive gas that irritates the respiratory system and can kill people with severe respiratory problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (with includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis), and asthma.  The studies also found that ozone causes shortness of breath and coughing, triggers asthma attacks and increases the need for emergency room visits and hospital admissions. Children, the elderly, and those with asthma or other lung diseases are most at risk from the high levels of ! ozone that occur too frequently in Massachusetts.

The report estimates that Massachusetts residents who are most risk of breathing dangerous levels of ozone are:

  • 1,466,231 children and 843,604 seniors
  • 124,775 children with asthma and 482,999 adults with asthma; and
  • 196,741 with chronic bronchitis and 73,639 with emphysema.

Particle pollution is a mixture of microscopic solids and aerosols that has been found to take months to years off a person's life. In addition to children, the elderly, and those with asthma or other lung diseases, the State of the Air: 2005 report now adds diabetics to the list of groups most at risk from particle pollution, based on increased evidence of their vulnerability to these tiny particles.  Particle pollution has also been shown to induce heart attacks and strokes, cause lung cancer, trigger asthma attacks and increase the need for medical care and hospital visits. 

State of the Air: 2005 estimates that Barnstable County residents who are exposed to dangerously high levels of particle pollution are:

  • 43,936 children and 52,462 seniors
  • 3,739 children with asthma and 17,757 adults with asthma; and 
  • 8,133 with chronic bronchitis and 3,827 with emphysema.

What People Can Do To Protect Themselves from Air Pollution

Check local air quality forecasts. You can find these by going to this EPA site. Avoid exercising near high-traffic areas. Avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high, or substitute an activity that requires less exertion.
Don't smoke indoors. Don't use fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.

For a century the American Lung Association has been the lead organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on