Report: Chicago Ranked 18th Most Polluted City

Lisa Fielding
April 25, 2019 - 1:37 pm
Chicago Skyline

WBBM Newsradio/Bob Roberts


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Chicago's air pollution has gotten worse, but it's better than 20 years ago.

A new report on air quality, from the American Lung Association, ranked Chicago the 18th most polluted city in the nation for ozone pollution.

Chicago is up four spots, compared to the American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of the Air” report, when the city ranked 22nd. The report revealed Chicago had 14 unhealthy ozone days, which is the average number between 2015-2017, though it is higher than the 2018 average of 9.8 unhealthy days.

So how bad exactly is the air in Chicago?

"Chicago got an 'F' grade in ozone pollution for our State of the Air report. They were ranked 18th most polluted in all of the country," said Jill Thompson, American Lung Association.

Thompson said there is good news and bad news in this latest State of the Air report.

"If we look at a 2005 report, we actually had 37 unhealthy ozone days, so it has gotten significantly better, even though it is a little worse than last year," she said.

Thompson said climate change is the biggest culprit, as we've experienced hotter days. Another big part of it is due to emissions from vehicles combined with heat in 2015, 2016, 2017, three of hottest years on record. 

Increased pollution is dangerous to people health and can can increase the risk of premature death. It also has serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm.

“Chicago residents should be aware that we’re breathing unhealthy air, largely caused by hotter days and vehicle emissions, placing our health and lives at risk,” said Angela Tin, national senior director for clean air initiatives for the Lung Association. 

Solutions? Driving less, carpooling more, taking public transportation, and not cutting your grass on high ozone days can all help in keeping ozone pollution low.

According to the American Lung Association, the top five polluted cities are all in California. The dirtiest city is Los Angeles.

You can read the full report here