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'F' grade given to quality of air over Valley
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Stanislaus County has received an 'F' rating for its air quality, says the American Lung Association which just came out with its "State of the Air 2011" report.

Overall, the entire Central Valley suffers from poor air quality but there are signs of improvement.

The county had 45 "orange" ozone air days, six "red" ozone days and two "purple" ozone days. The air samples from the county ranked 14th for ozone, one of the components.

In terms of particle matter floating in the air, Stanislaus County got a passing grade with only one "red" day and no "purple" days.

A Code Orange alert day is called when air pollution levels are predicted to become unhealthy for sensitive groups. A red alert means the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups while purple days represent air quality so bad that even healthy persons may be affected.

The county ranked 12th worst in particle pollution, including dust and other lung irritants, out of 277 surveyed areas between 2007 and 2009.

Two types of air pollution dominate the problem in the U.S.: ozone and particle pollution. They aren't the only serious air pollutants: others include carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, as well as scores of toxins such as mercury, arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, and acid gases. However, ozone and particle pollution are the most widespread pollutants.

Ozone and particle pollution are the most widespread air pollutants-and among the most dangerous. Recent research has revealed new insights into how they can harm the body-including taking the lives of infants and altering the lungs of children. All in all, the evidence shows that the risks are greater than we once thought.

Officials with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District suggest the ALA has skewed data that does not take into consideration that specks of pollution spiked in 2008, when wildfires plagued the Valley.