"State of the Air" Names Lynchburg Among Top in the Country for Air Quality

Lynchburg, VA- The Hill City has some of the cleanest air in the country according to a collection of data from the American Lung Association.

The results come from three years' worth of air pollution measurements. Every three years, the ALA releases what they call the "State of the Air." It's a chance to see how a city is doing in its fight against pollution and where they stand on a national scale. This year, Lynchburg's skies are looking very clear.

"We don't have the heavier number of commuters, we don't have any big industries. We certainly don't have any coal-fired power plants nearby, and their one of the biggest contributors," said Dave Perault, Chair of Environmental Science Department at Lynchburg College.

Those are all reasons why the Hill City is ranked among the cleanest metropolitan areas in the country, when it comes to 24-hour particle pollution. That means we have some of the lowest pollution amounts on a day-to-day basis.

The State of the Air uses measurements taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality System. Perault says it focuses on two main areas of pollution.

"One deals with ozone and ozone is essentially smog, and the other deals with particles or particulate matter."

Lynchburg doesn't have to worry too much about smog but we do have to keep an eye on our particulates, which can be anything from pollution from a factory, or particles from your vehicle's exhaust pipe."

"Our levels of particulate matter actually decreased from the previous readings to the current ones," said Perault.

Lynchburg got an A rating for 24-hour particulate pollution, and a pass for annual particulate pollution. And this study shows air quality is on the rise across the country thanks to the Clean Air Act. And, cities are doing more on a local level to keep that trend going.

"You've seen the city do some neat things over the past few years. You've got a great bus system, biking is being pushed forward more and more, people are moving downtown so they don't have to commute so far. And all those things can help," said Perault.

Perault also says the low pollution numbers can be a PR boost to the city, making Lynchburg a destination for those who want to breathe easier.