Despite progress, Philadelphia region still contends with polluted air

 Air by sculptor Walker Hancock is on display at the Schuylkill Banks at the Cherry Street overlook after 15 years in a city storage facility. (Emma Lee/WHYY

Air by sculptor Walker Hancock is on display at the Schuylkill Banks at the Cherry Street overlook after 15 years in a city storage facility. (Emma Lee/WHYY

Air in the Philadelphia region remains unhealthy on too many days, according to a new report.

“Our Health at Risk”  concludes the region’s air quality is not up to par, said Ash Khayami of PennEnvironment. He presented the report Thursday morning at City Hall.

“Every day, Philadelphians are breathing dangerous air pollution that is insuring they are living shorter and unhealthier lives,” he said.

The Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area experienced 97 days with elevated smog pollution in 2015, according to the report. It also recorded elevated particulate pollution on 212 days.

Those are indications that stronger measures are still needed to help curb air pollution in the region, despite recent progress, Khayami said.

Dr. Walter Tsu, a former city health commissioner, said the air could be cleaner.

“We, unfortunately, are sitting on a major refinery that occupies parts of South Philadelphia,” he said. “We are making major investments in this state around methane production.”

Several groups are urging Philadelphia and Pennsylvania officials to enforce environmental laws, even as the Trump administration moves to cut the EPA’s budget.

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