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Report Card for Air Quality: F

(KWMU File Photo)

By Hillary Wicai, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The American Lung Association is giving St. Louis air quality a failing grade.

The "F" is based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency for 1999-2001. St. Louis City, St. Charles, St. Louis and Jefferson counties, as well as Madison County, Ill., all recorded too many unhealthy high ozone days.

Susanah Fuchs, with the American Lung Association of Eastern Missouri, says air pollution hurts healthy people, but especially people with lung disease. "In our region we have a much higher average of childhood asthma prevalence," Fuchs said. "The national average is 6-7% our's is 15-20%. If somebody has asthma and air pollution episode can really exacerbate that."

Individuals can help control ozone air pollution by limiting car trips and carpooling, limiting use of gasoline powered lawn equipment and riding mass transit.

Fuchs adds just because the area got an "F" doesn't mean everything citizens have been doing hasn't had an effect. It's just not enough.

"All these steps people are taking, van pooling, riding metrolink, are making a difference. On the flip side I think it's important for people to realize they can't sit back because we have a lot more work to do."