State of the Air Annual report

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BISMARCK, N.D. - The American Lung Association says 125 million people live in areas of the country with unhealthy levels of air pollution, but where does North Dakota stand?

According to the 18th annual State of the Air Report, out of the nine counties that have air quality monitors in the state, seven of them received failing grades.

Topography, a disperse population, and climate are reasons North Dakota usually ranks high in air quality, but that's not the case in the State of the Air annual report.

"The days that we were monitoring in two years we actually had very significant impact from wildfires and that's what really caused those grades to go down, it was that wildfire pollution that was coming into the air," said Kristie Wolff, American Lung Association program manager.

The data collected was from 2013 to 2015 where there was an increase in wildfires.

Burke, Dunn, and Williams counties received an "F" grade for particulate pollution.

Burleigh, McKenzie, Mercer, and Oliver counties received a "D" grade.

"Based on their methodology those grades were not a surprise, but they do not reflect necessarily the air quality in North Dakota which we feel is very good," said Chuck Hyatt, North Dakota Department of Health Air Quality Department.

Pollutants can cause health problems especially with those suffering from asthma, COPD, or reduced lung function.

"People's health is something that is very important to us and we want to make sure the public is well informed when it comes to these wildfire smoke episodes," said Hyatt.

Some good news in the report, Bismarck came in 4th out of 25 nationally for U.S. cities with cleanest air for year round particle pollution.

Cheyenne, Wyo., Farmington, New Mexico and Kahuhuli, Hawaii rounded out the top three cleanest cities.

Los Angeles and San Francisco ranked top of the list for most polluted cities.