Western MA Gets Low Grades for Air Quality

A report released Wednesday gives counties in western Massachusetts low grades for air quality, but at the same time shows some modest improvement in Hampden County since last year. 

The American Lung Association grades air quality in counties across the state each year, based on data compiled by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. While Hampden County received a D grade for ozone, or smog, pollution, up from an F last year. For the same type of pollution, Hampshire County received an F. Katie King, director of public policy with the Lung Association, says Hampshire has the worst ozone levels in the state. And she says the region’s geography may be a contributing factor.

“In the Pioneer Valley, or any valley, you can see pollution that normally would get blown away actually gets trapped and stays over the community for longer periods of time.”

King says the main sources of ozone pollution are car and truck exhaust, coal and biomass power plants, and burning wood and trash. Both Berkshire and Hampden counties received higher grades for particle, or soot, pollution. Hampshire County does not monitor particle pollution. Berkshire County received higher grades for both ozone and particle pollution, and Franklin County does not monitor air quality.