Thursday, May 3, 2001

Honolulu’s air-quality
grade comes as breath
of fresh air

From 1997 to 1999 not a single day
saw unhealthy air here

Staff and wire reports

Oahu residents can breathe a sigh of relief. Literally.

Honolulu received an "A" Tuesday, earning the highest air-quality grade from the American Lung Association in its latest report on air pollution levels.

The report assigned A-to-F grades to counties nationwide based on how many times their air was considered unhealthy by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1997 to 1999.

Figures from those years are the most recent accurate data available from the EPA, the Lung Association said.

Honolulu had no days when the air was considered unhealthy. Other counties in Hawaii were not included in the report.

"Due to Hawaii's distance from major industrial air pollution sources and our near constant tradewinds, we are blessed with the cleanest air in the nation. Our Clean Air Program is working hard to keep it that way," said Gary Gill, deputy director for environmental health, state Department of Health.

Other cities reporting no days in the unhealthy ranges include Bellingham, Wash., Colorado Springs, Colo., Des Moines, Iowa, and Duluth, Minn.

The study also said that eight of the 25 smoggiest metropolitan areas in the country are in California and that more than 29 million Californians breathe dirty air.

Thirty-three of California's 58 counties received F grades.

Nationwide, 382 counties received failing grades, up from 333 in 2000.

California's San Bernardino County had the worst county rating in the country, the report said.

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