A Sooty Mess In Ohio

BY ON July 24, 2012

Dirty soot pollution coming out of a smokestack

In June, the EPA unveiled a new proposal to toughen the standards on soot. These standards will impact the national air quality, benefiting many people’s health. As always, there are those who oppose these new standards. This is an election year, and with industrial lobbyists attempting to garner support where ever they can, you can bet that this will be in interesting battle. A battle that is long overdue.

Soot is everywhere. We tend to think of it as limited to vehicle emissions or power plants, but in reality, the fires that have been blazing out West carry plenty of soot. The EPA has also brought into consideration the soot that accompanies wood burning fires and grills. This is so important because it is comprised of minute particles that enter our bodies through the air and then lodge so far down in our lungs that we cannot just cough or breathe them out. On a daily basis, over 1/3 of our nation’s population is threatened by the health hazard that soot brings upon our children, the elderly and those in poor health.

Why is Soot such a danger? It’s due in part to the complex structure of these delicate particles. In the very center of each particle there is a carbon core. If you’ve been following the Moms Clean Air Force blog, you know that carbon pollution itself is dangerous to our health and one of the main reasons why we have engaged so enthusiastically in this need to convince our government to set stronger air quality standards. Just outside of the core is a layer of more organic carbon compounds. Double whammy. Then a layer of sulfate and nitrates, heavy metals and toxins. So, when you inhale soot, you inhale a multitude of toxic particles, not just exhaust.

Ohioans are impacted by soot in 3 different ways:

  1. Soot is an a major irritant for those with asthma. Ohio’s asthma rates are among the worst in the country, with more suffers added daily.
  2. Soot that is the result of diesel fuel burning is a significant carcinogen. According to the Clean Air Task Force, “Occupational health studies link cancers, particularly lung cancer to diesel exhaust exposures. Traffic studies suggest increased rates of respiratory and cardiovascular disease and risk of premature death near busy urban streets or highways.”
  3. Cardiac arrest. The American Lung Association estimated that if we were able to tighten the standards on soot emissions, there could be a reduction of over 2 thousand heart attacks (nationwide) on a yearly basis!

Ohioans shouldn’t waste time getting our message to our leaders in government. We don’t want to add any more reasons to be in a state of pollution! We need road monitoring systems along our busy highways. We need a standards to be set because power companies and politicians cannot be expected to do the right thing and bear the responsibility all on their own. We need this for us now, and we need it for our children’s future.


TOPICS: Activism, Air Pollution, Asthma, Cancer, Coal, Ohio, Politics, Pollution