MEDFORD, Ore. — A new report from the American Lung Association had unfortunate news for residents of the Rogue Valley, finding some of the most polluted air in the United States between the Medford and Grants Pass areas.
The 2019 "State of the Air" report ranked the Medford-Grants Pass area as the 10th most-polluted area in the U.S for "annual particle pollution" and the 17th most-polluted area for "short-term particle pollution." Jackson County in particular received an "F" grade for high-particle pollution days.
"State of the Air" 2019 report (from the American Lung Association)
Top 25 most polluted cities for short-term particle pollution
1. Bakersfield, CA
2. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA
3. Fairbanks, AK
4. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA
5. Missoula, MT
6. Yakima, WA
7. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
8. Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, UT
9. Seattle-Tacoma, WA
10. Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV
11. Logan, UT-ID
12. Visalia, CA
13. Phoenix Mesa, AZ
14. El Centro, CA
15. Spokane-Spokane Valley-Coeur d’Alene, WA-ID (tie)
15. Sacramento-Roseville, CA (tie)
17. Medford-Grants Pass, OR (tie)
17. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA (tie)
19. Eugene-Springfield, OR
20. Salinas, CA
21. Anchorage, AK
22. Bend-Prineville, OR
23. Portland-Vancouver-Salem, OR-WA (tie)
23. Reno-Carson City-Fernley, NV (tie)
25. Bismarck, ND (tie)
25. Pocatello, ID (tie)
Naturally, increasingly prevalent smoke from savage wildfires was the biggest factor in these ratings.
“People living in the area should know that we’re breathing unhealthy air, driven by wildfires as a result of climate change, placing our health and lives at risk,” said Cathy Gidley, Executive Director for the American Lung Association in Oregon. “Many places in Oregon have seen their air quality worsen significantly. We must do more when it comes to protecting public health and people’s lives.”
Today we spoke to people that live and work in the Rogue Valley. We asked them their reaction to this new report.
Roberta Van De Water says, "it seems to be kind of a trend in the west." She says the past two years fire season has been horrible. Van De Water believes that this report has a lot to do with the wildfire activity we see in Southern Oregon and Northern California.
Wiley Basho Gorn works in Ashland at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He says, "it's a scary view into the future." Before I told him where the Rogue Valley ranked he was going to guess top 50. He says this is very unfortunate especially for the Festival that relies on being outside for some of its performances.