Richland County receives failing grade for air quality

RICHLAND COUNTY (WACH) -- Report cards are not only being issued to students this time of year, the American Lung Association publishing grades for air quality in cities, counties and states across the nation.

The group released its 12th annual State of the Air report on Wednesday.

From 2007 to 2009, Richland County averaged nine or more unhealthy days per year, resulting in an ozone grade of F.

Realizing how important it is to have the simple ability to breath easy is something everyone needs to be knowledgeable about, says Katie Bullard of the American Lung Association.

The report is based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency and focuses on two types of pollution: ozone and particle, both of which can lead to health complications.

Thom Berry with the Department of Health and Environmental Control says the agency is doing everything it can to improve air quality in the area, but cites cars and trucks as one of the largest contributors to ground-level ozone.

Right now in South Carolina, we have three million vehicles that are registered, Berry says, driving more than 46 billion miles a year.

While officials agree on the fact that a failing grade is not good, Richland County has showed improvement. In the past three years, the area has experienced19 fewer unhealthy days, according to the findings.

Richland County did score a passing grade in particle pollution, a mixture of things like soot and ash.

Officials remind residents there is more work to be done.

Any bad grade is bad, Bullard adds.

The American Lung Association suggests driving less and conserve energy to help reduce emissions.

Click here to read the 2011 State of the Air report.