The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Looking into Tampa’s Air Quality
When suffering from lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it is important to be aware of the quality of the air around you. We all know that clean air is better for our lungs. If you live in Tampa, you might be aware that many groups believe that the city has the worst quality air in the state of Florida. The American Lung Association gave Hillsborough County an “F” for ozone pollution in 2012. Is Tampa’s air quality really that bad though? Let’s take a little bit of a closer look into that “F” Tampa Bay state of the air report to see what it really means for Tampa residents.
There are two kinds of ozone; one is way up in the stratosphere, and blocks the ground from harmful ultraviolet rays. The other is the ozone that just hovers over the ground, consisting of a combination of vehicle exhaust, industrial plant emissions and smaller machines like gas-powered lawn mowers.
Measuring Air Quality
Tampa’s “F” rating has to do with the lower ozone level that covers the ground, also referred to as smog. According to The Tampa Tribune, Tampa typically only has about twelve days a year where air levels are at an unhealthy level, or above 100 parts per billion. The current government-regulated threshold for safe, clean air is 75 parts per billion.
When it comes to air breathability, the lower the score, the better. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed that we lower the safe level to 70 or 65 parts per billion. The American Lung Association would like that number lowered even further down to 60 parts per billion. Environmentalists have tested air levels throughout Hillsborough County and argue that county-wide the average is 75 parts per billion and even 70 parts per billion in certain areas. The issue, they say, is that the official air monitor is located in south Hillsborough County where pollution levels are the highest.
If the EPA gets their way and the standard is lowered to 65 parts per billion, the county will likely see more violations. According to Alain Watson, air monitoring section chief with the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission, if the level is dropped to 70, most of the state of Florida would still be in compliance. If that level is dropped to 65, however, a handful of areas would be in violation, one of them being Hillsborough County.
Contributors to Tampa’s Air Quality
While Hillsborough County might see higher levels of pollution than other areas of Florida, it does see healthy air levels on most days of the year. The “F” rating from the American Lung Association takes various air pollutants into consideration for this ranking, not just the ozone level. According to Christopher Coutts of Florida State University, cars are the main contributor to pollution levels in the area. “There’s no question that the more cars that are on the road, the worse the air quality is going to be,” he said. “The solutions to that are more dense development, more mass transit.”
It is important to take all of these factors into consideration when suffering from lung disease. Whether it means living in an area with less traffic or staying inside on the few days of the year when pollution levels at their height. Regardless, Tampa is still a healthy place to live, even for those suffering from lung disorders like COPD. If you or a loved one is suffering from a lung disease, the Lung institute may be able to help. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify.