Today the American Lung Association released its latest air quality report: State of the Air 2012. The annual report looks at a range of air quality issues for communities across the nation. And this year there are signs that the work to help protect the citizens of the Birmingham area is making a difference. Gathings Law currently represents hundreds of clients in a lawsuit over air pollution in one part of the city.
The metro area has a long way to go before being considered a model community for air quality, but thanks to the work of the Jefferson County Department of Health, the EPA, state agencies, and other groups, the quality is improving. First, a look at where we stand today. The latest report shows the greater Birmingham community is the 12th worst in the nation for year-round particle pollution, a measure that looks at the amount of material suspended in the air we breathe. Those particles get into our lungs and eventually into our bloodstream wreaking havoc on our entire body. The area is also the 21st worst for ozone pollution. Jefferson County is also the 15th most polluted county in the nation in terms of the year-round particle pollution.
But good news can be found in those figures. The metro area improved four spots in the rankings for the year-round particle pollution and fell off the short-term particle pollution list entirely. Also the progress Jefferson County has made for the year-round particle pollution has earned it a passing grade from the American Lung Association. The Birmingham News has a good article looking at some of the reasons behind the improvements.
But we can’t look at the improvements and declare victory. Just looking at the report you can see that there are tens of thousands of people in our community in groups that are at high-risk for being affected by the pollution. That is why we at Gathings Law continue to fight to protect our community from pollution problems and to make people responsible clean up the mess they left behind when they leave. Many homes have been damaged because of pollution and many residents have been harmed because of our poor air quality. We applaud the work of the agencies trying to clean up our community and hope to see Birmingham fall off of these most polluted lists entirely in the near future.
You can read the Birmingham News article about the report on the newspaper’s website.