So there is today finally a bit of sun redeeming Cincinnati, almost enough to make one forget about all the particulates in the air while one is outside. Almost, not quite. It’s a terrible irony that here, while one attempts to do what was once considered the healthy thing to do — get outdoors, in the sunshine , get active, take in the “fresh” air — one is actually taking in the elements of death. If you’re so inclined, you can get a good look at what this “sunny” deadly day looks like here via the Cincinnati Pollution Air Web Cam, which also gives readings of fine air particulates (ranging just inside the high zone at the moment).
• Cincinnati ranks 2nd statewide and 11th nationwide for the worst chronic fine particle pollution among large metro areas in 2004. Fine particle pollution was high year-round in Cincinnati and exceeded EPA’s standard for what is safe to breathe over the long-term (the annual standard).
• Ohio ranks 5th nationwide for chronic soot pollution.
In 2005, the Bush administration’s science advisors and EPA staff scientists concluded that the current health standards for fine particle pollution are too weak to fully protect the public. They recommended that the administration make the standards more protective, which would require power plants and other polluters to clean up. The Bush administration rejected these recommendations and instead proposed a very minor change to the health standards. It is unprecedented for an administration to disregard the recommendations of the independent Clean Air Science Advisory Committee.
“The American Lung Association strongly believes that the Bush administration should listen to its advisors and strengthen fine particle pollution standards. Current standards do not do enough to protect the public from the serious health dangers associated with this form of pollution,” stated Joel Kaplan, Executive Director, American Lung Association, SW Ohio.
EPA’s own risk assessment shows that the current annual fine particle standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) and 24-hour standard of 65 µg/m3 protect only 56 million people. The administration’s proposal would maintain the annual standard at 15 µg/m3 and only slightly lower the daily standard to 35 µg/m3.