Hamilton County received failing grade in air quality - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton County received failing grade in air quality

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB)  --  A post on the American Lung Association's web site says it all: "If you live in Hamilton County, the air you breathe may put your health at risk."

The county received an "F" in ozone air pollution.

"We're used to getting F's from the American Lung Association," says Air Pollution Control Bureau Director Bob Colby.

He attributes a number of factors to the failing grade.

"Unfortunately, Chattanooga is situated in a geographical bowl. We're surrounded by ridges and mountains," says Colby. 

Once pollutants are in they're, they remain for awhile.

"We have a tremendous amount of transportation flowing through the county," says Colby.

He says last year's hot temperatures only made things worse.

"The weather plays a large portion in the formation of ozone," Colby says.

So how can we help the air quality?

"Car pool, ride a bike or walk if you can," Colby says.

Outdoor Chattanooga and the Bike Share program is on top of it.

"We've had over 15,000 trips to date and that has eliminated about 8,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions if those had been motor vehicle trips," says Phillip Pugliese with Outdoor Chattanooga.

While programs like Chattanooga's Bike Share help, experts fear bad air quality could wind up costing the city.

"I think the long term concern is economic development," Pugliese says.

However, Colby is confident the county is headed in the right direction.

"We have some work to do ahead and we're hopeful for better weather in the few coming years," Colby says.

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