A report on “dirty air” released Thursday shows elevated levels of air pollution in Washington Court House and Wilmington that damage health and pose a risk to children.
The Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center worked with scientists and researchers to develop the report, “Our Health at Risk: Why Are Millions of Americans Still Breathing Unhealthy Air?”
The report analyzes air quality data in the nation based on official data for 2015 and preliminary 2016 data. Air pollution levels were rated based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index.
The 2015 data revealed Washington Court House had 33 days of elevated smog pollution. Wilmington had 32.
By contrast, larger metropolitan cities had more days of elevated smog pollution: Columbus, 103, Cincinnati, 134, and Dayton, 50.
The report lists Wilmington as one of 10 cities in the nation with a notable increase in smog pollution from 2015 to 2016. This data shows that the City of Wilmington increased from having 32 days of elevated smog pollution in 2015 to 58 days in 2016.
The report states that the jump in the number of days with elevated smog pollution does represent a long-term trend. “Such year-to-year variation can result from higher temperatures, more sunny days, or less wind, and does not necessarily indicate a long-term trend,” the report states. Some cities in the country had reportedly less days of elevated smog pollution in 2016 than 2015.
Both Washington Court House and Wilmington had three days where the levels of air pollution posed a heightened risk for sensitive groups like children, older adults and those with lung disease. The EPA recommends that these sensitive groups limit and avoid exposure to air pollution on days when the levels of pollution are high. The report states there is no safe or healthy level of exposure to pollutants and even a single day of elevated air pollution represents an unacceptable threat to public health.
“Although our air is less polluted than it was 30 years ago, dirty air is still a major health problem. Despite that fact, President Trump is taking an axe to important programs that could help clean up our air,” the report states.
Among those programs: rewriting the Clean Power Plan, cutting the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, rolling back federal clean cars standards that were supposed to prevent 6 billion metric tons of global warming pollution, and giving the Department of Interior the authority to rewrite air pollution regulations for oil and gas drilling.
The report states these actions will have significant health impacts to Ohioans.
“Reducing harmful air pollution leads to happier, healthier communities and families,” said State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “This report is yet more evidence that Ohio should not eliminate the renewable energy standards that create good-paying jobs and make for a cleaner environment.”
The Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission statement is to protect Ohio’s air, water and open spaces by investigating problems, crafting solutions and providing education to the public.
The report may be viewed online at http://www.environmentohio.org/reports/ohe/our-health-risk