Chicago May Be Polluted, but It’s Also Green

April 28, 2012

All in one week, our city received an “A” for its sustainability and an “F” for its air.

Let’s start with the latter, something that is affecting my asthma as I sit in my Chicago real estate.

In its State of the Air 2012 report, the American Lung Association graded Cook County’s air as an “F.”

And, not just one failing grade but two. On the air we breathe.

Cook County received the grades for unhealthy levels of ozone and particle pollution.

According to the ALA, “particle pollution is the most dangerous and deadly widespread air pollutant in America. This noxious mix of microscopic bits of ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols can lead to early death, heart attacks, strokes and emergency room visits.”

Ozone air pollution comes from fossil fuels, like gas, and can irritate the lungs, ergo my asthma, and “shorten life.”

This gives a whole new meaning to the nickname the Windy City.

All of northern Illinois isn’t failing the air grade, thank goodness, and many of Chicago’s surrounding counties fared better:

*DuPage: A

*Kane: B

*Lake: C

*McHenry: A

*Will: A

One way to clean up the air is to add trees. And, it just so happens that the city has won a bunch.

Chicago has received the Business Civic Leadership Committee’s Sustainable Community Award in the large community category. The city was chosen out of 132 cities from 40 states for its approach to implementing the Chicago Climate Action Plan.

The award comes with a prize of $20,000 worth of trees, which will be planted later this year around the city.

“Increasing sustainability throughout Chicago can create dramatic economic opportunity throughout our neighborhoods and improve the overall quality of life for residents,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“We have done this in many ways, from recycling to LEED buildings, from protected bike lanes to energy efficiency. We will continue to look for ways to make Chicago more sustainable, and to embed sustainability throughout the city.”

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