UPDATE: State of the air - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: State of the air

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By Teresa Mackin - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

DANE COUNTY (WKOW) -- Even progressive Dane County isn't immune to air pollution.

Wisconsin got some mixed reviews in a study put out by the American Lung Association. Overall, Dane County rates okay as far as air quality goes: the county passes the federal guidelines.

But it's here on roads like this one.. some say the county could use a change in habit.

Lisa MacKinnon, with Dane County Clean Air Coalition, says, "Historically our air is improving."

That coalition has been around since 2003, and has helped, along with its voluntary members, to improve much of Dane County's air.

Dane County actually jumped from an F to a C in terms of ozone pollution. But that's not the case when you're talking about particle pollution: those tiny particles in our air.

For that, Dane County got an F.

MacKinnon adds, "Transportation really is the gorilla in the room. It's really the big piece of the puzzle we need to take action on."

Take the year 2006. We drove 5-billion miles on Dane County roads. Each mile, adds an entire pound of carbon dioxide to the air.

MacKinnon says, "Everyday we all leave our homes, go to offices, get into our vehicles. As long as we continue these habits, we'll see air emissions."

Clean energy advocates from Clean Wisconsin say they're not surprised Dane County received that failing grade.

Ryan Schryver says, "It should be a wake up call to the state that Dane County, heart of progressive Wisconsin, is seeing such poor air quality as a result of our dependency to dirty fossil fuels."

Even the energy advocates say, Dane County's done it's part over the past decade to clean up, especially when you're talking about power plants in the area.

Schryver adds, "The Blount street power plant is moving to natural fuel; the Charter Street Power Plant is switching to biomass."

Wisconsin has worked for years with neighboring states to improve emissions.

What worries activists is that the EPA may toughen ozone rules, which could have us not even reaching federal requirements at some point down the road.

Bad air quality is specifically aggravating for the 63-thousand people in Dane County with asthma.

For more information on what this means for your health, and what you can do about it, click on the links to the left of this story.

More statistics:

The Los Angeles area continued to have the nation's worst ozone pollution while Bakersfield had the worst short-term particle pollution.

The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area of Arizona had the worst year-round particle pollution.

The cleanest cities in the nation were Fargo, N.D.; Wahpeton, Minn., and Lincoln, Neb.

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