American Lung Association: Ramsey County's air gets a "D"

Smell something bad? The American Lung Association is out with a new study today that shows Ramsey County fell from a "C" to a "D" grade when it comes to air quality -- the worst in the state.

Based on EPA data on ozone and particle pollution from 2007-2009, the State of the Air report also handed out "C" grades to Dakota, Olmsted, Scott and Stearns counties, all of which scored "B" in the last go-round.

Hennepin County wasn't graded because of insufficient data, association spokesman Bob Moffitt told us via e-mail. But that doesn't get us off the hook.

"Hard to say exactly why Ramsey County did badly during that period. It's downwind from Hennepin County, so there could be some pollution traveling from the other side of the metro," he said. "Traffic is slower and there are more vehicles on road every year than the last."

Moffitt says the grades carry serious weight when it comes to federal regulations and clean air standards.

EPA will be revising the federal air quality guidelines soon, and they are expected to make them tougher. All of MN meets these guidelines now, but a "D" grade should be a hint that if we don't keep working on this, we may have some counties in "non-attainment status" which is EPA-speak for being on this list.

Once a county is found to be in "non-attainment," the feds start bringing pressure to bear.

"Business and other pollution sources may be required to add new pollution control devices, an action plan has to be developed, [and] new industries may not want to move into an area with these added rules."

Moving into an area where "people can get sick and even die from the bad air" isn't high on anyone's criteria list for relocating either.

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