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September 22, 2011

New Jersey ranks fifth in the country in terms of smog and poor air quality, according to newly released report by Environment New Jersey, which used data from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to look at air quality across the country.

The report Danger in the Air: Unhealthy Air Days 2010, 2011 pointed to Philadelphia and its New Jersey environs as having the worst air quality in the state in 2010 and the eighth-worst metropolitan area in the country. Philadelphia/New Jersey had 29 days in 2010 that were above recommended federal safety levels. But that wasn’t the only part of the state with a serious smog problem: Monmouth and Ocean Counties were ranked fifteenth in the country; Middlesex, Somerset and Hunterdon were ranked seventeenth; and Trenton was ranked twentieth. Newark was ranked twenty-ninth.

Smog, which is caused by ground-level ozone, is known to be a health risk, increasing the likelihood of cardiovascular and respiratory illness and leading to asthma attacks.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama scuttled plans to drop the acceptable levels of ground-level ozone from his predecessor’s 75 parts per billion to 60-70 parts per billion, which had been recommended by the EPA. Obama made the decision under pressure from industry and Republicans who said it would endanger the economy. The Environment New Jersey report argues that the current levels are unsafe and notes that the smog levels were as high as 101 parts per billion and there were three days that the state was on red alert.

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