[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Detroit Ranks 3rd for Worst Air Pollution among Major US Cities

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from Jason Barbose -------------------------------------------------------------------------


Detroit Ranks 3rd for the Worst Air Pollution

among Major U.S. Cities


Bush Plan Favors Energy Companies over Public Health


<>Southfield, Michigan — With the Bush administration poised to finalize weak air pollution standards for power plant smokestacks, a new report released today by PIRGIM (Public Interest Research Group In Michigan) shows massive air pollution problems across the U.S.  

The Detroit metropolitan area had the 3rd highest level of soot pollution among major U.S. cities in 2003.

Detroit made the top 10 list that no city wants to be on,” said Jason Barbose, state field organizer for PIRGIM. “The bottom line is Detroit is a polluted city, and children with asthma, senior citizens, and others with breathing problems are suffering the most,” continued Barbose.

<>Power plants are the nation’s largest industrial source of air pollution, contributing 23 percent of smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions and 67 percent of soot-forming sulfur dioxide emissions nationwide, according to EPA data.  This report comes as the Bush administration prepares to finalize weak and delayed air pollution standards for power plants in the Eastern U.S., while opening up new loopholes in the law.  The plan would prevent future cleanup efforts, weaken protections in parks and wilderness areas, let power plants emit more than 1.5 times more smog- and soot-forming pollution than the Clean Air Act allows, and not take full effect until 2015. 

“Time and again the Bush administration has favored big energy companies over science and public health.  The administration should reverse course and clean up dangerous power plant pollution,” stated Barbose.

<>Much as sunburn affects the skin, smog burns the lungs and airways, affecting even a healthy person’s ability to breathe and causing a host of respiratory problems, including asthma attacks, increased susceptibility to respiratory infections, and decreased lung function.  In Detroit, smog triggers 130,000 asthma attacks each year.  

Soot is an even more dangerous pollutant because the tiny particles can lodge deep in the lungs or pass directly into the bloodstream, causing serious respiratory and cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks, lung cancer, and premature death.  In Detroit, soot pollution from power plants alone causes 783 non-fatal heart attacks and 446 premature deaths each year.

<>Yesterday, EPA released new data showing that soot-forming sulfur dioxide emissions increased in Michigan by 2.28 percent between 2002 and 2003. 

Danger in the Air: Unhealthy Levels of Air Pollution in 2003 is PIRGIM’s fifth annual analysis of air quality based on a survey of environmental agencies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  For the first time, the report examines levels of fine particle “soot” pollution in addition to ozone “smog” pollution.  Key findings include the following:

·        Michigan ranked 2nd nationwide for the worst year-round soot pollution and 7th for the most spikes in soot pollution in 2003.  The Detroit metropolitan area had the 3rd highest year-round soot pollution among major U.S. cities in 2003.

·        Michigan ranked 11th nationwide for the worst smog pollution in 2003.  Smog levels in the Detroit metropolitan area exceeded EPA’s 8-hour health standard 36 times and the 1-hour standard 6 times on 7 smog days in 2003, ranking the city 25th for the worst smog pollution among major U.S. cities.

·        Nationally, smog levels in 40 states and the District of Columbia exceeded EPA’s 8-hour health standard 4,583 times and the 1-hour health standard 684 times on 187 days in 2003.  Ozone levels in 2003 were similar to those in 2000 and 2001; in contrast, 2002 was a hot and dry summer, leading to record high ozone levels.

·        Nationally, soot levels exceeded EPA’s year-round health standard in 53 metropolitan areas in 20 states in 2003, and soot levels exceeded EPA’s 24-hour health standard 106 times on 39 days in 13 states.

<>The report also includes preliminary smog data for 19 states and the District of Columbia for 2004, which, like 2003, has been a relatively mild and wet summer.  Yet, ozone levels still exceeded EPA’s 8-hour health standard 602 times and the 1-hour standard 84 times so far in 2004. 

“We can’t depend on the weather to protect us from polluted air.  But we can, and the Bush administration should, dramatically cut the smokestack pollution that causes unhealthy smog levels,” said Barbose.

<>Barbose called the Bush administration’s record on air pollution “dismal,” noting that President Bush reversed his campaign pledge to cap global warming pollution from power plants within the first 60 days of his administration and has promoted numerous policies to weaken clean air protections, including the most significant rollback of the Clean Air Act in the law’s 34-year history.  That policy, finalized in September 2003, allows old coal-fired power plants to virtually rebuild without ever installing modern pollution controls, further extending the lives of about 550 outdated plants that emit 98 percent of the smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions and 99 percent of the soot-forming sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants.  <>

PIRGIM called on the Bush administration to substantially strengthen, accelerate, and finalize its proposal to cap soot- and smog-forming pollutants from power plants in the Eastern U.S. to adequately protect public health and comply with the Clean Air Act.

PIRGIM is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization





Jason Barbose
PIRGIM Field Organizer

103 E. Liberty St., Suite 202
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
============================================================== ENVIRO-MICH: Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action. Archives at http://www.great-lakes.net/lists/enviro-mich/ Postings to: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net For info, send email to majordomo@great-lakes.net with a one-line message body of "info enviro-mich" ==============================================================