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E-M:/ Lung Association national air quality release

[Note that this guy, Paul Billings, who works in the
ALA Washington DC government relations office is the son of the
Leon Billings, one of the original authors of the Clean Air Act of 1970]

From: Paul Billings <pbillings@lungusadc.org>
Subject: : American Lung Association State of the Air 2003 Released
Date: Thu, 01 May 2003 09:21:47 -0400
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you can see our entire report at www.lungusa.org

American Lung Association Forecasts
Continued Unhealthful Air from Coast to Coast

(May 1, 2003-New York)-Nearly half the American population-more than 137 million Americans-continues to breathe unhealthy amounts of the toxic air pollutant ozone (smog), according to the American Lung Association State of the Air: 2003 report released today.
The annual report cites that moderate improvements in smog levels are due to a break from summer heat, not air pollution cleanup activities, further illustrating the urgency for Americans to fight for cleaner air in the face of potentially devastating changes in the nation's environmental policies. The Lung Association anticipates increasing numbers in its 2004 report, which will include data from the hot 2002 summer.
The report was released in the shadow of the Administration's rollback of key Clean Air Act provisions and additional proposals that would weaken public health protections of that law, thereby denying tens of millions of Americans healthy air for the foreseeable future.
The American Lung Association urges Americans to contact members of Congress to oppose any bills that would weaken the Clean Air Act and to contact EPA by May 2, 2003 to oppose the proposed changes that would weaken the New Source Review provisions. Americans can log on to www.lungusa.org to make their voice heard to Congress and EPA on these critical issues. 
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State of the Air: 2003*.2

"Four years into the American Lung Association State of the Air reports, where we've analyzed data since the mid-1990s, we can point to no significant ozone improvements other than a few lucky changes in the weather," said John Kirkwood, president and chief executive officer of the American Lung Association. "We can't depend on Mother Nature to protect Americans from disease and death caused by breathing human-made smog. It's time to fight for our right to breathe clean air and for America to solve the air pollution problems that Americans create." 
The release of the American Lung Association State of the Air: 2003 also marks the beginning of the annual ozone season, when the summer heat traditionally causes smog levels to rise across the nation. The report examines ozone air quality data for 1999-2001, which are the most recent quality-assured data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report grades and ranks counties on how often their air quality reaches "unhealthful" categories of the EPA's Air Quality Index for ozone air pollution.
For the fourth consecutive year, four California metropolitan areas-Los Angeles, Fresno, Bakersfield, and Visalia-Tulare-Porterville-top the list of America's smoggiest cities, followed by Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, Texas. Rounding out the top 10 most ozone-polluted cities list are Sacramento-Yolo and Merced, Calif. and three Southeastern locales-Atlanta, Ga., Knoxville, Tenn., and the Charlotte, N.C. metropolitan areas. The report found that over half-55.5 percent-of counties with ozone monitors received an "F" rating. While this year's report includes data from 14 additional counties, only five million fewer Americans live in counties that received an "F," compared with the 2002 report.
        "We see a tiny dip in the number of Americans directly affected by ozone, but at these huge numbers, it's insignificant," said Kirkwood. "Smog control has been held up for years, and now we risk losing some important tools we have in the Clean Air Act that are based on protecting our health. In the meantime, kids with asthma and people with any lung disease run a very real risk of suffering respiratory problems from breathing ozone. Even healthy, active adults can find it hard to breathe."

Threats to the Clean Air Act
The American Lung Association's report cites two administration initiatives that would repeal, weaken, and delay Clean Air Act safeguards: regulatory changes that roll back the "New Source Review" safeguards, and the administration's proposed legislative air pollution plan, unconvincingly called the Clear Skies Initiative.  Compounding years of legal issues that have stalled full implementation of the Clean Air Act, these actions would cripple the Act, prohibiting or delaying measures intended to protect public health.
In February 2003, the American Lung Association, as part of an environmental coalition, filed a lawsuit against EPA for adopting illegal changes to New Source Review, a provision of the Clean Air Act that requires approximately 17,000 of the nation's oldest and dirtiest power plants, oil refineries and other industrial facilities to meet emissions standards applicable to new facilities by installing up-to-date-pollution control devices whenever the plants make changes that increase pollution.
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State of the Air: 2003*.3

"Trying to drastically weaken New Source Review is the tip of the iceberg of policy changes that would weaken the core of the Clean Air Act, which has helped protect public health for 40 years," said Kirkwood. "We are at risk of losing major advances in our nation's air quality to politics. Clean air is a health issue and is being tossed aside to benefit industry-our biggest source of outdoor air pollution."
The Administration's legislative air pollution plan would hurt public health and help big polluters by delaying and diluting cuts in power plants' sulfur, nitrogen and mercury pollution compared to timely enforcement of current law. The administration plan would roll back the current law's public health safeguards to protect local air quality, curb pollution from upwind states and protect our national parks.                                     
"The American Lung Association has fought for clean air for 30 years, and we will continue to defend the strongest tool we have--the Clean Air Act--until we achieve cleaner, healthy air for all Americans," said Kirkwood. "The relationship between air pollution and lung disease is undeniable. That's why clean air remains a priority goal for the American Lung Association."

American Lung Association State of the Air: 2003 Report Highlights
Ninety-three counties' ratings improved by at least one grade since last year's report, while 26 counties received lower grades this year. Only two cities-Redding, Calif., and Chattanooga, Tenn.-stepped off last year's list of most ozone-polluted cities; both, however, maintained their F grades despite the change in ranking. Six counties-Blount, Tenn., Douglas, Ga., Knox, Tenn., Fayette, Ga., Maricopa, Ariz., and Wake, N.C.-were deleted from this year's list of the 25 most ozone-polluted counties, replaced by Nevada, Calif., Placer, Calif., Tarrant, Texas, Henry, Ga., Camden, N.J., and Hartford, Md.  Of the newcomers, only Camden County, N.J. has ever been on this list before. Louisville, Ky. and Allentown-Bethlehem-Eaton, Pa. are newcomers to the nation's top 25 smoggiest metropolitan areas since last year.
Over 7.4 million adults with asthma and nearly two million children suffering from asthma attacks live in counties that received an "F" grade in ozone air pollution. Those totals represent 70 percent of the 10.6 million American adults with asthma and 69 percent of the 2.8 million children who have had an asthma attack and live in counties with an ozone monitor. 
        The American Lung Association State of the Air: 2003 report also presents new analyses of regional ozone sources and trends, as well as examining ozone transport-the pollutants being carried by winds-that leads to unhealthy smog levels even in regions where smog is not actually created. Ozone not only moves into a state from the outside but also moves within the state. Some air pollution episodes have been followed hour-by-hour as they move city-by-city within a state. In many cases, the highest levels of ozone will show up in suburban areas downwind of larger communities. Some regions, including the Southeast and Midwest, are notable as sources of transported ozone affecting cities and states within the region and outside it; they lead the nation in emissions of both volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides-the two essential groups of gases required to make ozone.

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State of the Air: 2003*4

About Ozone
Ozone is a highly reactive form of oxygen that results primarily from the action of sunlight on hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, which are emitted in a variety of activities, especially fuel combustion. Ozone levels typically rise between May and October when higher temperatures and increased amounts of sunlight combine with stagnant atmospheric conditions that are associated with smog episodes.
Even relatively low ozone levels can affect healthy people's ability to breathe, leading to shortness of breath, chest pain when inhaling deeply, wheezing and coughing. Long-term exposure can result in reduced breathing ability and increases the risk of respiratory disease later in life. Children, the elderly and individuals with chronic lung disease, such as asthma, are at greatest risk of breathing problems from ozone exposure.
        "We had made great progress through the 1980s in reducing smog, but unhealthy ozone levels actually increased in some regions during the '90s," said Kirkwood. "We need to make major policy changes that will have a long-term, positive impact on our smog problem."  

What Americans Can Do
        "Americans' right to breathe clean air is being threatened," said Kirkwood. "We need individuals to fight for the Clean Air Act, support New Source Review, and oppose efforts that benefit big polluters and harm public health."
To learn more about sources and trends in smog in regions across the nation, Americans can access American Lung Association State of the Air: 2003 report online at www.lungusa.org. The online report includes regional perspectives. Interested individuals can type in their zip code and receive air quality information on their county, state, and the larger region where they live.

The American Lung Association has been fighting lung disease for nearly 100 years.  With the generous support of the public and the help of volunteers, we have seen many advances against lung disease.  However, our work is not finished. As we look forward to our second century, we will continue to strive to make breathing easier for everyone through programs of education, community service, advocacy, and research.  The American Lung Association's activities are supported by donations to Christmas Seal* and other voluntary contributions.   You may obtain additional information via the American Lung Association Web site at http://www.lungusa.org.


Paul G. Billings
American Lung Association
1150 18th Street NW #900
Washington DC 20036
202-785-3355  x 228
fax 202-452-1805

Join the American Lung Association Action Network
at http://www.lungaction.org/

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