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EDITORIAL: Local air gains only a 'C' grade

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According to the American Lung Association, the air around St. Croix County is getting worse.

For quite a few years in a row, the local air received a "B" grade from the "State of the Air" report issued by the nonprofit organization.

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In this 11th annual report for 2010, St. Croix County's air was downgraded to a "C."

The grade is much better than some parts of the state, like Milwaukee, that have received grades of "F" for several years.

Still, a "C" sounds quite a bit worse than a "B" and we all should be concerned.

This area saw four "orange" alert days for poor air over the past year. That's more than past years. The more alerts an area receives during the year, the lower their grade in the Lung Association's report card.

Why is it such a big deal? Any time the air quality of a region worsens, the health of its residents takes a nose dive.

Here in St. Croix County, according to the American Lung Association, there are about 2,000 kids with asthma, 5,778 adults with asthma, 2,635 with chronic bronchitis, 930 with emphysema, 21,000 with cardiovascular disease and 4,030 with diabetes.

Every time an air alert is sounded by the authorities, many of these people suffer the consequences. They are forced to stay inside, their productivity at work declines and they often head to the doctor to tackle health issues that pop up.

As a result of the report's release, the Lung Association urges people to contact Congress to push for cuts in emissions from coal-fired power plants. It makes sense from a public health standpoint, association officials say, and it would lead to lower health care costs in the long run.

We've always prided ourselves as being residents of "God's Country" here in Wisconsin. That distinction can easily fade away if pollution isn't tackled soon by the government and industry.

Let's strive together to raise St. Croix County's grade level, and Wisconsin's overall grade level, by 2011.

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