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New ALA report: Virginia cities have some of the cleanest air in the country

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Creative Commons/Wikimedia Commons: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Roanoke_City_(Virginia)_from_Mill_Mountain_Star_at_Dusk.jpg
Roanoke is among the 10 cleanest air quality metro areas in the country according to the new ALA report.

The American Lung Association has released its annual report on air quality. And, a few Virginia cities have some of the cleanest air in the entire country.

The 2022 State of the Air report shows that more than 40% of Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Many of the cities with the poorest air quality are in the western half of the country, where wildfires have become more and more prevalent in recent years.

Kevin Stewart, director of environmental health for the ALA, says there were other alarming statistics.

“People of color are much more likely to live in counties that get higher grades, worse grades than others,” Stewart explains. 

Virginia, though, for the most part is doing very well when it comes to air quality. In fact, Virginia has four out of the 10 metro areas in the country ranked best for all three pollutants the report tracked – something Stewart says no other state can claim.

“Charlottesville, Harrisonburg/Staunton, Roanoke are all in that category," Stewart says. "Lynchburg would be if it had a monitor for ozone. And Virginia Beach/Norfolk are also in that category.” 

Stewart notes most of those metro areas that ranked well in Virginia are on the smaller side, which certainly helps with air quality.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Nick Gilmore is a meteorologist, news producer and reporter/anchor for RADIO IQ.