Bridgeport Harbor Station Unit 3, left, a closed coal-fired power plant stands next to the Bridgeport Harbor Station Unit 5. The unit 5 is a natural gas-powered plant that opened in 2019 to provide energy to homes and businesses across Connecticut. Yehyun Kim / CT Mirror

Blame it on the wind.

Connecticut, a state often referred to as the “tailpipe of the nation,” continues to bear the burden of out-of-state pollution from cars and factories in the Midwest that is carried east.

An annual air quality report from The American Lung Association released Wednesday showed the Hartford metropolitan area is back on the list of the nation’s 25 most ozone-polluted cities.

Meanwhile, Fairfield County received a failing grade for its air ozone levels, which the report notes are the highest in the eastern U.S.

Air full of ozone can create and exacerbate health issues including asthma.

The bad news for Connecticut comes as air quality is gradually improving nationwide, according to the “State of the Air” report.

Ruth Canovi, advocacy director of the American Lung Association in Connecticut, hopes the new federal “good neighbor” provision to the Clean Air Act will curb harmful emissions.

“That is really going to have some strong implications as well for the quality of the air that we breathe in Connecticut by reducing emissions from other sources around the country,” she said.

The new rule would require the Environmental Protection Agency and states to address interstate transport of air pollution, which can impact air quality of downwind states.

Emissions from motor vehicle exhaust and industrial facilities both contribute to ground-level ozone pollution, according to the EPA.

“Sometimes Connecticut has been referred to as the tailpipe of the nation, for ozone,” Canovi said. “We’re subject to what’s happening in other states, but there’s a lot more that we can do in Connecticut as well.”

Canovi said the Lung Association is pushing for proposed state policies to meet greenhouse gas emissions goals and strengthen environmental justice laws. On a federal level, the group is seeking action on new limits for ozone and particle pollution.

This story was first published April 19, 2023 by Connecticut Public.