the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, The American Lung Association released its 2019 State of the Air report showing New Jersey continues to have some of the most polluted air in the nation. Ground level ozone pollution – smog – continues to increase across the state, although there were some areas of improvement. For instance, particle pollution – soot – continues to decline.
“This report is once again an alarm bell going off because New Jersey still has some of the worst air quality in the country. Most of the counties in the state are still receiving a “F” for their ground-level ozone. The biggest sources of this air pollution come from mobile sources, cars, trucks and buses, and power plants. NJ is not doing enough to reduce pollution and should get an “F” grade for failing to deal with those sources. This report should be another wakeup call to the governor and the legislature that we are not doing enough to clean our air and protect our residents,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
A prime source of ground-level ozone pollution is vehicle emissions. The state has continued to drag its feet in promoting electric vehicles and electrifying its bus fleet, despite availability of VW settlement money that should be used for that purpose.
“In New jersey, 45 percent of the pollution comes from trucks and buses. It’s even worse in our congested urban areas where people are sucking in the fumes and choking on them. You can feel it in your lungs, and in your nose. It’s like sunburn of the lungs, and it leads to more trips to the emergency room and more risk for people with heart problems and asthma. We need to move forward more quickly on electric vehicles and electrifying our buses and ports. VW settlement money should be used to expand a statewide charging network and transition NJ Transit to electric buses,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Unless the state starts acting more aggressively to reduce ozone pollution we will continue to see a bigger impact on public health, and our lungs,”
According to the American Lung Association report, 10 counties in the state received a grade of “F” for their air quality. No other county received a grade higher than C. Climate change creates higher ozone levels, leading to worsened air quality and increased health effects.
“We already have failing grades for pollution and it will only get worse if we allow 8 proposed pipelines and 5 proposed power plants to be built. That’s why a moratorium on all fossil-fuel projects in state is so important. Bergen County’s air improved slightly, but that won’t last if the Meadowlands power plant is built. Middlesex County’s air is an “F,” and they’re dealing with another proposed pipeline and two power plants. What little progress we’re making will be quickly reversed,” said Tittel.
North Jersey remains ranked the 10th worst metropolitan area in the U.S. for ozone levels, the same as last year. The main ingredient is smog that can trigger asthma attacks in the estimated 650,000 state residents who suffer from the disease. In New Jersey, air pollution has led to asthma in children and adults, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer.
“Air pollution can cause asthma attacks and put people with heart problems, lung problems or children at risk. Asthma attacks from ozone kill 100 kids a year. Ozone not only has significant health impacts, but it is an irritant for people at risk it which can actually cause asthma attacks sending people to the hospitals. It is also linked to premature death through heart attacks and respiratory problems,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The state can take many steps toward reducing pollution. They need to pass EV legislation and spend VW settlement money to push electric vehicles forward and expand the vehicle charging network. NJ Transit needs to buy electric buses. We need a moratorium on new fossil-fuel projects, and DEP needs to start reducing pollution for older, dirty plants. Then we might be able to start breathing easier.