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Pollution lands Augusta area in air report

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Augusta is among the 25 worst cities for a certain type of air pollution even as other Georgia cities have improved, according to a report from the American Lung Association released today. Although Augusta slid just under one standard from the Environmental Protection Agency, there is strong consensus that standard should be set much lower.

In the association's "State of the Air 2010" report, the Augusta area's particle pollution is "just under a level that has been recognized by the courts and lots of scientific groups as being unhealthy," said Janice E. Nolen, the assistant vice president for national policy and advocacy for the lung association.

"In our opinion, it is not a healthy level."

Augusta was 23rd on the list of cities with the worst long-term levels of particle pollution. Yet its 14.8 micrograms per cubic meter was just under the EPA's threshold of 15 per cubic meter, Nolen said.

The lung association contends the level should be set at 12 per cubic meter.

The group sued the EPA over the standards and won, and the agency is now going back to review what it considers a safe level, Nolen said.

The association says particle pollution is typically a mixture of ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols.

The report showed improvement in many areas, including Atlanta. Much of this is the result of ongoing efforts to clean up emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the impact of cleaner diesel fuel and more clean diesel engines and SUVs, Nolen said. Still, 58 percent of the country -- more than 175 million people -- live in areas with higher levels of air pollution, said Charles D. Connor, the president and CEO of the lung association.

"Nearly six out of 10 Americans lived in areas where the air could be dirty enough to send people to the hospital, dirty enough to shape how kids' lungs develop and even dirty enough to kill," he said.

About 24 million live in counties -- such as Richmond County -- that got an "F" for ozone levels.

The health effects of air pollution -- particularly particle pollution -- are very real, said Dr. Norman Edelman, the chief medical officer for the lung association.

"Here, death is a major complication, is a major effect of particle pollution," he said. "And it is a pervasive problem throughout the country. Even short-term exposure to particle pollution can be deadly."

The air pollution in Augusta definitely adds to the problems of respiratory disease, said Dennis Ownby, the chief of allergy and immunology at Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics. Though health officials agree more needs to be done, it is hard to argue for reforms when the costs are so apparent and the benefits are harder to show, he said.

"It's much harder to quantify the benefits than it is to immediately calculate what the expense is going to be for these modifications," Ownby said. "That kind of slows the effort to make these kinds of changes."

But they can have dramatic effects, he said. During the 1996 Summer Olympics, an effort to cut down on traffic in downtown Atlanta was attributed to a "very large drop" in the number of children showing up with asthma problems, Ownby said.

"Presumably we would see the same kind of thing if we made that kind of substantial reduction in our air pollution level here in Richmond County," he said.

At-risk population

The American Lung Association says many people are at higher risk from elevated levels of air pollution. This year, that list includes for the first time people at or below the federal poverty line. Poor people are more likely to be exposed to higher levels of air pollution, the group said. Children and seniors are also at higher risk.

The Augusta area was 23rd on a list of the 25 worst cities for long-term particle pollution, typically a mixture of ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols, according the lung association's report.

A look at the Augusta area's at-risk population:

POPULATION: 534,218

UNDER AGE 18: 135,645

65 AND OLDER: 65,742

KIDS WITH ASTHMA: 12,769

ADULTS WITH ASTHMA: 33,240

CHRONIC BRONCHITIS: 17,488

EMPHYSEMA: 6,776

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: 146,046

DIABETES: 41,759

POVERTY: 91,978

Source: American Lung Association "State of the Air 2010"

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treerock
0
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treerock 04/28/10 - 06:10 am
0
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ride a bike!

ride a bike!

speeding
0
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speeding 04/28/10 - 06:29 am
0
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Lets see now who is the bad

Lets see now who is the bad particle polluter in this story that the writer tried so hard to cover for?

seabeau
33
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seabeau 04/28/10 - 06:43 am
0
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Augusta is known for the

Augusta is known for the pollution of both its own air and of the Savannah River.

deekster
24
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deekster 04/28/10 - 06:49 am
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Particulate matter? No its

Particulate matter? No its "water vapor". Cough, cough, cough...... Pam Tucker issued an e-mail statement "that while the air pollution is outside of standards, there is no need for the citizenry to be alarmed. Everything is OKAY." Just give those little rug rats another respiratory treatment and send them on the school.

deekster
24
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deekster 04/28/10 - 06:52 am
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"Nearly six out of 10

"Nearly six out of 10 Americans lived in areas where the air could be dirty enough to send people to the hospital, dirty enough to shape how kids' lungs develop and even dirty enough to kill," he said. Pam Tucker quoted Sheriff Ronnie Strength, "that numbers can mean anything". We are OKAY. Just give those little rug rats another respiratory treatment and send them off to school. Cough, cough, cough....wheeze, wheeze

deekster
24
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deekster 04/28/10 - 06:58 am
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We have the "triple whammy"

We have the "triple whammy" in the good old CSRA. Constant low level radiation, a coal fired power plant and an abundance of chemical plants. All in the same valley? Heart disease and cancer. I wonder how CC managed to avoid "heavy industry" all of the decades? Did CC miss the "industrial revolution" by design? Were the rolling hills of CC saved by "providence" or "the committee of one hundred"?

deekster
24
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deekster 04/28/10 - 07:02 am
0
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Babcocks and Wilcoxs used to

Babcocks and Wilcoxs used to provide "silica snow" for kids to play with in South Augusta. It was like the "biblical manna" in the morning. What is it? Their solution. Raise the height of their "effluent stack" and "blow it a little further down the line".

Pandemonium
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Pandemonium 04/28/10 - 07:06 am
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That's lovely. Though, I

That's lovely. Though, I can't seem to find anywhere the broad reference for 23/25 of worst cities. Out of...the state? The country? The world?

I stayed inside mainly due to the heat/humidity/excessive pollen. Ionic purifier = win.

DuhJudge
206
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DuhJudge 04/28/10 - 07:54 am
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Did you know that 5 out of

Did you know that 5 out of every 10 Americans live in counties that are bordered by the sea? I know that may seem irrelevant, but the fact is that when people throw around 6 out of 10, the object is to alarm, not inform. Particulate pollution here as well as the ozone level is determined by two things. Our trees and our hot sun. There is not one industry in this side of the state that has contributed to even a cough, as much as the trees in your yard. I will bet $100, that this report and list did not incorporate a single actual measurement. It is simply a list compiled by a computer model without making even a one day visit to Augusta. The Lung Association has an agenda to be relevant in your life besides encouraging you to stop smoking. For all these poor children with asthma, see if their Moms smoke first.

smec29
31
Points
smec29 04/28/10 - 08:40 am
0
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Pandemonium, I am wondering

Pandemonium, I am wondering the same thing. I didnt see in the article what the numbers were refering to.

Atlanta native
0
Points
Atlanta native 04/28/10 - 09:25 am
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A significant reason why

A significant reason why Atlanta's air quality is improving is the enforcement of auto emission standards. If Augusta's cars had to pass emissions testing once a year as a requirement for getting a tag, there would be far fewer oil-burning jalopies on the road.

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 04/28/10 - 01:16 pm
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Deekster - Where is the

Deekster - Where is the coal-fired powerplant ??

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 04/28/10 - 03:46 pm
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gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 04/28/10 - 05:38 pm
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Diesel engine exhaust is one

Diesel engine exhaust is one of the causative reasons for Augusta's high particle pollution. Diesel exhaust contains 20-100 times more particles than gasoline exhaust. There's no OSHA standard for diesel exhaust but diesel exhaust has been shown to cause cancer and NIOSH recommends that diesel exhaust exposures be reduced to the lowest feasible limits.

Currently 13 counties in the metro Atlanta area have vehicle emission testing:

http://www.cleanairforce.com/

Why don't we have vehicle emission testing in the CSRA?

deekster
24
Points
deekster 04/29/10 - 07:22 am
0
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ripjones, you need to get out

ripjones, you need to get out more. or maybe not? have you not seen the endless lines of coal cars coming into town? have you not visited east boundary and the miracle mile? hwy 56 loop? google that area and look what is in the area adjoining the river? better still, just ask countyman, its always a wonderful day in his downtown neighborhood!!!

deekster
24
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deekster 04/29/10 - 07:23 am
0
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countyman's continual "praise

countyman's continual "praise of everything downtown" reminds me of the Biblical "Angel of Light" who will give constant praise to "The Antichrist and his Beast". It is all relative, subjective and seldom the truth.

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