Poor grades for western Massachusetts air

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – You might not have much trouble breathing in and out, but the air really isn’t good enough for thousands of people here in western Massachusetts.

The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report gave a C grade for ozone levels in Hampden county and a failing grade for Hampshire county.

Ozone is the most common form of air pollution and it’s created when sunlight interacts with emissions from things like vehicles.

Part of the problem is the pollution in neighboring states travels into New England by way of weather patterns and winds and then gets trapped in the valley.

“What happens in the Midwest and the South we end up with here, so it’s not necessarily what’s happening across the street, but it’s what’s happening across the country,” said Donna Hawk, a respiratory therapist at Baystate Medical Center.

Ozone and small pollution particles in our air have real affects on people who suffer from asthma or lung disease.

People with breathing difficulties come to the Baystate Medical Center Pulmonary Rehab Center for supervised exercise.

P.J. Pelletier told 22News she has a difficult time when car exhaust fumes are in the air.

“I have to be really careful not to breathe in things like that and sometimes when the pollen gets worse that makes it more difficult and when the air is heavier or there are things in the air it makes it harder for me to breathe,” said Pelletier from Chicopee.

Until the air improves, there are ways to cope with those “heavy air” days.

“The best thing for me, I just stay in the air conditioning, try not to lift or walk as much outside and stay out of the sun,” said John Desrochers from Chicopee.

There was some good news; both Hampden and Berkshire counties improved one letter grade since last year when measuring ozone levels.

A link to the full report is here.

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