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Our Opinion: Failing grade for ozone a concern

Across the nation, 46 percent, or 136 million people live in more than 200 counties where they are exposed to unhealthy air. Washington County is among them. In fact, based on ozone alone, Washington County has again received an F in the grading of air quality.

We deserve better.

This week, the American Lung Association and its Ohio affiliate released Ohio’s Air Quality Report Card. Across the state, the highest grade given was a B, and most of the counties received a grade of C or worse. Washington County was one of 15 counties to receive Fs for ozone. Eleven counties received Fs for levels of particle pollution. Some areas, like Washington County, don’t get a grade for particle pollution, but that’s because the American Lung Association doesn’t think the population is large enough to check for that.

We disagree and ask that all counties be included in the reporting of particle pollution in future report cards.

Overall, the state showed improvements in ozone, but the amount of particle pollution is worse. What is particle pollution? That’s the type of pollution that falls to the earth from coal-burning power plants. There’s more of it, the study says, because these power plants are generating more electricity.

All the more reason why it’s so important to conserve.

But it’s also important that the state take action. The lung association is asking that the state take a hard stance when it comes to making sure power plants and other industry meet emission standards. Violations of those standards matter. Pollution makes people sick.

Recently, we reported the number of children with asthma is on the rise and one school nurse suggested as many as 10 percent of all city school children suffer from asthma at some level. We mention this because asthma is the type of condition brought on and agitated by the type of pollution the report card rates.

Certainly, pollution controls exist and many of the industrial plants in our area, coal burning and otherwise, have taken steps over the years to reduce emissions. But we must continue that diligence in an effort to further reduce emissions and protect the health of local citizens.

There’s no quick fix and the lung association report card is but one measurement of how well we’re doing. But if the best grade we can get is an F, it’s clear our air can improve. We must not settle for less.

• To find out more go to www.lungusa.org




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