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EDITORIAL: Breathe easier!

May is "Clean Air Month" and what better time could there be to celebrate this important resource that we all need for our health and survival.

In conjunction with this month's celebration of clean air, American Lung Association's State of the Air 2013 report was released last week.

Here in St. Croix County, the new report brought great news.

According to the American Lung Association, the county's air quality improved from a grade of "C" in 2012 to a grade of "B" in 2013. St. Croix County has sustained a "C" grade since 2009, after years of maintaining a "B" grade.

The newly improved grade relates to the county's particle pollution levels (soot in the air). Throughout the course of the past year, the county has had fewer than average pollution alert days, which has helped to boost the local air quality. This year the county did not receive a grade for measured ozone in the air.

Overall, the State of the Air 2013 report shows that the air quality nationwide continues to improve.

But we're more fortunate in these parts compared to other areas of the U.S. The report suggests that more than 131.8 million people in the U.S. still live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, which equates to more than 4 in 10 people (42 percent).

But even in those areas, the air is slowly improving. Cleaning up major air pollution sources through steps like cleaner gasoline such as E85, biodiesel and low sulfur gasoline, and cleaner vehicle standards will drastically cut both ozone and particle pollution.

The march toward more healthy air depends on action steps taken by each of us. Do your part, when the opportunity arises, by driving less and operating vehicles that don't add too much to the overall pollution problem.