We've been touting environmental quality in our area for decades. It is generally agreed that our environmentally clean outdoors is one of the region's strengths.
So a "D" grade in air quality for Lycoming County last week attracted some surprise and outright disagreement from some quarters.
The grade was based on the eight to nine days of high ozone concentration the county was judged to have experienced over a three-year period.
Dan Spadoni, state Department of Environmental Protection, disagreed with the findings of the study by the American Lung Association. He said the department is reviewing the methodology used to assign the grades.
He added that DEP monitors local air quality, the information is available on its website in real time and that Lycoming County is within the guidelines of the Clean Air Act.
A note of caution about the findings. Organizations that start with a particular viewpoint on an issue are likely to have that reflected in any grading system.
Kevin Stewart, the American Lung Association's director of environmental health for the Mid-Atlantic Region, conceded that the association considers "any bad air one day too many for someone with a lung condition like asthma or chronic bronchitis."
He also acknowledged that the "D" grade actually was an improvement over the "F" rating Lycoming County has consistently received.
Our take is that concerns for the county's air quality are legitimate. But we doubt if there are many people who would consider giving Lycoming County a failing air quality grade.
The fact that the state's air quality has been judged the best it has been in the past 12 years is probably the guidepost to be taken more seriously.
Can we get better? Sure. Should that be the goal? Sure. But these findings deserve renewed dedication to the cause, not panic.