The American Lung Association recently released its State of the Air report on air quality — giving North Dakota a low grade.
But the North Dakota Department of Health questioned— why?
Nine counties in North Dakota are tracked with continuous data of air quality.
The 2018 State of the Air report released letter grades ranging from A to F for the amount of Ozone and particulate matter — it’s for the years of 2014 to 2016.
Ryan Mills, Manager of Data Collection and Analysis of Air Quality, says,”It kind of raised the question well why such a bad letter grade. We did our research and looked into the AQI days that were flagged as orange or red.”
The ALA based their analysis on the air quality index for individual days.
Mills says, “Purple which is very unhealthy days, red unhealthy days, orange which are for unhealthy days for sensitive people.”
The data they used is real and the numbers are good, but they showed decreased air quality on days when smoke was coming in from the west.
Mills says, “They were from forest fires.”
Explaining the bad air quality. On certain days in 2015 the air quality was really bad resulting in the changed letter grade.
“We don’t have any control over,” says Mills.
Air quality plays a big role in health and certain age groups are more in danger when air quality isn’t good.
Jonathan Rodrigues, Sanford Health Doctor, says, “Forest fires for example can make your symptoms worse. When we had the fires from Montana a lot of our patients came in for respiratory and got worse for a short term.”
The Department of Health still says that we have some of the best air quality around.
Mills adds, “We’ve got counties listed in the top 25 cleanest in the nation.”
Maybe that’s because there’s a lot of blue skies!
Wildfires from this past September were not included in the report — but they will be in the next report– which means it could hurt our air quality once again.