Archived Story

Rochester falls in air quality rating

Published 5:57pm Saturday, May 4, 2013

The 2013 State of the Air Report released April 24 by the American Lung Association has some mixed grades for the city of Rochester and for Olmsted County. In an analysis of annual particle pollution in 220 metro areas, Rochester was ranked 140th most-polluted, slightly worse than last year’s 142nd ranking (higher numbers equals less pollution). For ozone pollution, the news was much better. Olmsted County had no days of unhealthy ozone reported during the three year period (2009-2011) covered by the report, and Rochester and Duluth were both cited as among the nation’s cleanest cities for ozone pollution. Duluth was also ranked ninth cleanest city for annual particle pollution.

While the Twin Cities metro area is on the list of “most polluted cities” for short-term particle pollution in, there are signs of progress. The Minneapolis-St. Paul-St. Cloud region was ranked 42nd most-polluted in an analysis of short-term pollution in 235 metro areas nationwide. That’s a slight improvement over last year, when the metro area was ranked 36th most-polluted. In the annual particle pollution ranking, the Twin Cities was ranked 116th most-polluted, improving from 104th last year. No other Minnesota cities made the most-polluted list.

The State of the Air Report looks at air quality data that was collected by the state and verified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As in past years, Minnesota’s scores in the report are generally good but mixed. Ramsey County’s grade for short-term particle pollution improved to a “D,” up from an “F” grade in last year’s report. However, Anoka and Washington counties, which earned “A” grades last year for ozone pollution, saw their grades slip to a “B” in the 2013 report. Other grades for Minnesota counties remained unchanged from last year’s report.

The message these reports are telling us is air pollution is a serious concern, and that we need to continue efforts to reduce it. In the Twin Cities and statewide, there has been real progress in reducing emissions — new wind and solar power projects, adding mass transit capabilities to the Twin Cities, increased use of alternative fuels and advance vehicle technologies like E85, biodiesel and electric vehicles, decreased use of coal for energy production and increased controls on emissions sources. In many ways, we are on the right path to cleaner air; but there is still much more to be done and we must continue to implement changes in business, in government and in each of our daily lives in order to protect air quality and human health.

A link to the full report can be found at


Robert Moffitt

communications director

American Lung Association

St. Paul