Southern Illinois' Air Quality Gets F from Lung Association

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By Matthew Searcy

WSIL -- A new study shows air pollution is a growing problem across the country and in southern Illinois. The American Lung Association report says half of Americans live in counties that have unhealthy air. 

"Rural areas where you expect the air to be very clean, in less populated areas, we are still seeing these trends where there is an increase in ozone," said American Lung Association's Mike Kolleng.  
The ALA monitors air quality at two sites in southern Illinois -- Hamilton and Randolph Counties. The new report gives both failing grades due to high levels of ozone pollution.  
 
"One of the major contributors is mobile source pollution which comes right out of the tail pipe of your cars, trucks and buses," explained Kolleng.  
 
Polluted air can cause asthma attacks and other severe health problems.  
 
"Going outside if they have asthma it markedly limits their threshold," said allergist Dr. Ronald Mings. "Their asthma is more easily triggered, and they can have really life threatening severe episodes."
 
The latest data shows a decline in air quality across the country. Most counties in southern Illinois are not even checked due to a lack of funding
     
Kolleng says it's an issue that needs to be addressed. He urges people to speak to their local politicians.  
 
"Let them know that this is something we are interested in," said Kolleng. "There should be budget and resources invested in making sure everyone has these monitoring systems."
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