Air quality gains insufficient
The article, “Ozone Action Days decline in Pittsburgh area with drop in pollutants” tries to paint a pretty picture but reality is hazier. Allegheny and several surrounding counties are recording ozone levels above the federal standard of 70 parts per billion (ppb) set by the Environmental Protection Agency. More troubling: The EPA predicts Allegheny County may be one of just a few counties nationwide not able to meet this standard far into the future. Even more disconcerting is that the new EPA standard isn’t as protective of health as it should be.
Many medical professional groups, such as the American Thoracic Society, recommend an even lower, more protective standard of 60 ppb.
In addition, action days are only called when the air quality is forecast to be above the federal standard of 70 ppb. But vulnerable populations like asthmatics, children, the elderly and those with heart disease could experience negative health effects at lower levels.
Progress is being made, but efforts to clean the air must increase so that all citizens can breathe easy.
The writer is the Group Against Smog and Pollution’s executive director.