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Our View: Air quality concerns continue

With all the public awareness about pollution across the nation, you'd think our air would be getting cleaner these days.

But the American Lung Association has released its 2009 "State of the Air Report" and the news is less than encouraging for this area.

After years of sustaining a "B" grade in the report, St. Croix County managed just a "C" this year for its air quality based on several determining factors.

Over the past year, our county recorded three "orange" alert days when air quality was deemed hazardous to at-risk populations. That's up from just two "orange" days in 2007.

On those days, particle pollution in the county's neighborhoods was rated as poor due to trapped pollutants in the air.

When it comes to ozone pollution, St. Croix County also rated a grade of "C". Health officials recorded six poor air day related to ozone pollution during the past year, compared to just one the year before.

The "C" grade isn't a huge concern when compared with the results in places like Milwaukee, Waukesha and Dane counties, where they picked up failing grades.

But when you live in these parts of Wisconsin, also known as God's country, you've come to expect better. Anything short of an "A" is unacceptable.

Trouble is, with so many of the county's 80,000 people commuting and driving into the Cities for recreation and shopping, pollution issues are bound to be a problem for some time to come.

We can all do our part to make a difference, however.

Ask your employer if you can work at home a day or two each week -- if it doesn't negatively impact your ability to complete the job.

Consolidate trips to limit the amount of pollutants your vehicle emits into the atmosphere. Look at hybrid cars and alternative fuel cars, which pollute less than traditional vehicles. Maybe even ride a bicycle more often, which adds no pollutants to our air.

And recycle and reuse manufactured items in an effort to minimize the need for more pollution-producing production.

Everyone committing to take one small step can have a huge impact on our air and our environment.