Air Quality Worsened in Dallas-Fort Worth: American Lung Association

A report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association shows ozone levels worsened in Dallas-Fort Worth. The metroplex is now ranked as the 7th most polluted city in the nation when it comes to ozone.

Analyzing data collected between 2011-2014, the American Lung Association released it's 'State of the Air 2015' report, which graded Dallas-Fort Worth with an "F" in ozone.

"It's very bad," said American Lung Association in Texas Executive Director Jeff Miracle, "it rates us as the 7th worse city in the country for ozone behind five cities in California and Houston at number six."

According to the American Lung Association, Ozone is the most widespread air pollutant, created by the reaction of sunlight on emissions from vehicles and other sources. Ozone can pose health issues by irritating the lungs.

Dallas-Fort Worth also experienced slightly more days of unhealthy levels of short-term particle pollution. Year-round particle pollution levels remained the same. Both Dallas and Tarrant Counties received a passing grade for year-round particle pollution, and "B" grades for short-term particle pollution.

Those who suffer respiratory illnesses, like 9-year-old Julian Blazer, often are forced indoors on ozone alert days.

"It feels like I can't breathe," said Blazer when referring to one of his asthma attacks. His mother and clean air advocate, Cherelle Blazer, says allergens are the biggest trigger for his condition, but on high ozone days there can be no allergens present and her son has a hard time breathing.

"It's just really heartbreaking because when we don't do anything to clean up this pollution we are really ripping their childhood away from them," Blazer said.

They are forced to adjust their schedules because of it.

"We won't go to the park, he likes to play baseball and he likes to run, but we won't go to practice that day or if there is a game that day maybe we won't go to the game," Blazer said, "he has to make sure he has his pump with him at all times."

Still, even with data that shows ozone worsened, Miracle said we have made progress overall.

"Dallas-Fort Worth can certainly be proud of the progress we've made in cleaning up our air since the first 'State of the Air' report 16 years ago. However, there's still a lot of work to be done to make our air healthy for all of us to breathe," Miracle said.

"Reducing pollution will only become more challenging because warmer temperatures increase the risk for ozone and particle pollution, and make cleaning up the air harder in the future. We need stronger air quality standards to limit pollution and continued cleanup of the current sources of pollution in to protect the health of our citizens," Miracle said.

The EPA addressed the '2015 State of the Air' Report in a statement to NBC 5:

"The Clean Air Act has helped us make remarkable progress in protecting the air we breathe - but we have more to do. Together with our state, local and tribal partners, EPA continues to work to reduce harmful ozone and particle pollution and protect the health of families across the United States. Rules for cars, trucks, buses, industry and power plants are helping reduce this pollution across the country, and upcoming rules such as the Clean Power Plan will make further improvements."

An EPA spokeswoman tells NBC 5, since levels were monitored in the mid 90s, they have been significantly reduced, and dropped from 110 parts per billion to 79-80 parts per billion during the most recent data set in 2012, 2012 and 2014.

An EPA proposal is currently under consideration to reduce the allowable limit of ozone pollution from 75 parts per billion to anywhere from 60 to 70 parts per billion.

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