by German Lopez
Report finds region 10th worst for year-round particle pollution
Cincinnati area and Hamilton County ranked poorly in the American Lung
Association’s annual “State of the Air” report, released April 24, with failing grades in a couple categories.
The report, which used 2009-2011 U.S. EPA data, gave
the Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington region an “F” for ozone pollution,
a “D” for 24-hour particle pollution and a “fail” for year-round particle
pollution. The region ranked 10th worst for year-round particle
pollution and No. 14 worst for ozone pollution.
Meanwhile, Hamilton County received an “F”
for its overall performance, with an “F” in ozone pollution, a “D” in
24-hour particle pollution and a “fail” in year-round particle
But the report found overall improvement around the
nation, with most cities reducing year-round particle pollution and days
of high ozone pollution.
Despite its current standing, Greater Cincinnati has also
improved in the past few decades. In comparison to 1996, the region has
16.9 fewer high ozone days per year. In comparison to 2000, the region
has 19.9 fewer days of high particle pollution and a lower concentration
of pollutants in the air throughout the year.
Exposure to ozone and other pollutants can damage lung
tissue, putting Greater Cincinnati at a higher risk for
Particle pollution occurs when the air is tainted by a
complex mix of pollutants. Year-round exposure can lead to death and cancer, while 24-hour spikes in exposure can cause
illness and even death under some circumstances.
To help combat the issue, the report makes policy recommendations
to the U.S. EPA, asking for stronger regulations on various sources of
pollution, including power plants, gasoline, cars and even wood smoke.
The Clean Air Act, which was strengthened in 1990, gives the EPA the regulatory power necessary to hand down regulations on many of these issues, but funding more
enforcement would likely require congressional action.
States and cities can also curtail air pollution by passing clean energy policies. Ohio began supporting clean energy
when it passed its Clean Energy Law in 2008, but State Sen. Bill Seitz, a
Cincinnati Republican, is reviewing the law’s energy efficiency and
clean energy standards and may ultimately weaken them (“How Clean is Too Clean?” issue of March 27).
In Cincinnati, the state standards have helped foster more solar energy developments, which Environment Ohio says could turn Cincinnati into the solar capital of the region (“Solar Cincinnati,” issue of Dec. 19).
More public transportation options can also help reduce
air pollution. The advocacy group American Public Transportation
Association says switching from private to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon footprint:
“A single commuter switching his or her commute to public
transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 percent
and up to 30 percent if he or she eliminates a second car. When compared
to other household actions that limit CO2, taking public transportation
can be 10 times greater in reducing this harmful greenhouse gas.”
Cincinnati is currently pursuing plans to build a streetcar, but the project is being threatened by a major budget gap. The city is also planning to build more bike trails
and other transportation options as part of Plan Cincinnati, the city’s
first master plan since 1980.
The effects of climate change will end life as we know it in the Queen City
0 Comments · Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Don’t expect Cincinnati to be cov ered in a polar ice cap any time soon, but our actions are speed ing us toward a period of global cooling.