American Lung Association ranks Atlanta fourth-poorest air quality in the Southeast

The Atlanta skyline viewed from the top of Stone Mountain. Several guests join Thursday’s edition of “Closer Look” to discuss climate change in Georgia.

Chad Madden

Since 2018, air pollution in Atlanta has seen notable improvement. Even so, The American Lung Association ranks the city fourth poorest in air quality in the Southeast.

The organization attributes the city’s low score to unsafe levels of ozone and particle pollution, which increases instances of disease and death in high-risk communities such as children, older adults, pregnant people, and those with chronic illnesses.

Atlanta’s “F” grade was assigned in the organization’s 2022 “State of the Air” assessment, which “grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone air pollution (also known as smog), annual particle pollution (also known as soot), and short-term spikes in particle pollution, over a three-year period,” the association reports.

On Monday’s edition of “Closer Look,” Ashley Lyerly, the American Lung Association’s senior director of advocacy for Georgia, broke down the impact of Atlanta’s low ranking in high-risk and minority communities. 

“Given the climate that we are in … it’s important to continue to raise awareness around [the fact that] we continue to have a segment of our population that are unjustly burdened by air quality,” she explained. “We still have a lot of work to do.”