State Urged to Do More to Battle Air Pollution

New Jerseyans breathed dirty air in 2016 — for as much as one-third of the year in some areas of the state — underscoring the need for the new Murphy administration to do even more to battle air pollution, a new report contends.

The report titled Trouble in the Air: Millions of Americans Breathe Polluted Air, released yesterday by Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center, counted a cumulative total of 543 days of poor air quality among six metropolitan areas covering the state. It examined data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency relating to air pollution levels from ozone or smog and particulates, which are fine particles that come from the burning of such fossil fuels as coal, diesel, gasoline and natural gas. These pollutants have been linked to a worsening of asthma and other respiratory problems and an increased risk of premature death.

Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said the actual number of days that New Jersey exceeded established federal standards for ozone or particulates in 2016 was far lower — just 26. He said Environment New Jersey’s report used a different standard, counting days when air pollution levels were moderate and did not exceed federal health standards.

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