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Recent report reveals Tampa's air quality has gotten worse

More than 4 out of 10 Americans breathe polluted air, according to the report.
Credit: Wollwerth Imagery - stock.adobe.com
Aerial view of cruise port and downtown area in Tampa, Florida.

TAMPA, Fla. — A recent report from the American Lung Association found that Tampa's air quality has worsened in the past year.

The association's yearly "State of the Air" report tracked people's exposure to unhealthy levels of ozone and particle pollution over a three-year period. In Tampa, researchers found the city had more days of unhealthy ozone pollution when compared to the previous year.

Tampa received an "F" for ozone pollution and was ranked 57th for the most ozone pollution across the nation -- 11 spots lower than the previous year, according to the report. 

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However, in terms of particle pollution, Tampa was ranked as one of the cleanest cities for short-term particle pollution.

Still, the lung association says Tampa's ozone pollution puts many people at risk, including older adults, children and individuals with lung disease. Both ozone and particle pollution can cause premature deaths and other health effects, like asthma attacks, according to the report.

Ozone pollution isn't necessarily connected to the natural thin layer of our atmosphere that protects us from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Ozone is a gas that, when emitted at the ground level, is a harmful air pollutant, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It is the main ingredient in smog. 

Ground-level ozone pollution is created by chemical reactions from pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, chemical plants and other sources, the agency says. 

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More than 4 in 10 Americans breathe in polluted air, the report states. That equates to roughly 135 million people.

When broken down by race, the association says people of color were 61 percent more likely to live in a county that had unhealthy air than white people. The report also shows that climate change has made air quality across the country worse and harder to clean up.

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