Alachua County's air is clear — most days

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 2:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 2:14 p.m.

A new report gives Alachua County high marks for air quality, but comes as wildfires have made air quality the worst it has been in years.

The American Lung Association report gave the county an "A" grade for ozone and a "B" grade for particle pollution, based 2003 to 2005 data. The county was ranked among the 25 cleanest in the nation for ozone, which can harm the lungs and irritate the respiratory system.

The report comes as the area has been clouded by smoke from the largest wildfire in Georgia history. Monday marked the highest reading of the year for ozone as measured by a tracking station at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.

The contrast between the grades and the current air quality illustrates the impact of outside pollution sources on the county, said Chris Bird, director of the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department.

"We seem to be more affected by what's going on around us in the region ... as opposed to what kind of pollution is created locally," he said.

For more on this story, read Wednesday's Gainesville Sun.

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