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Air Too Dirty to Breathe in 345 Counties

Posted: 2008-03-13 23:08:26
Filed Under: Health News, Nation News, Science News
WASHINGTON (March 13) - The air in hundreds of U.S. counties is simply too dirty to breathe, the government said Wednesday, ordering a multibillion-dollar expansion of efforts to clean up smog in cities and towns nationwide.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced it was tightening the amount of ozone, commonly known as smog, that will be allowed in the air. But the lower standard still falls short of what most health experts say is needed to significantly reduce heart and asthma attacks from breathing smog-clogged air.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson called the new smog requirements "the most stringent standards ever," and he said they will require 345 counties - out of more than 700 that are monitored - to make air quality improvements because they now have dirtier air than is healthy.

Johnson said that state and local officials have considerable time to meet the new requirements - as much as 20 years for some that have the most serious pollution problems. EPA estimates that by 2020 the number of counties failing to meet the new health standard will drop to about 28.

About 85 counties fall short of the old standard enacted a decade ago.Johnson's decision is likely to be met with sharp criticism from health experts and some members of Congress because it goes counter to the recommendations of two of his agency's scientific advisory panels - one on air quality and the other on protection of children.

The new EPA standard will lower the allowable concentration of ozone in the air to no more than 75 parts per billion, compared with the old standard of 80.

The science boards had told the agency that limits of 60 to 70 parts per billion are needed to protect the nation's most vulnerable citizens, especially children, the elderly and people suffering from asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Most toxic Cities:
10. Cincinnati | Contaminated Sites: 22,992
Leaking storage tanks: 1,719 | Corrective action reports: 44
9. Seattle
Contaminated Sites: 46,299
Leaking storage tanks: 1,333
Corrective action reports: 30
8. Detroit
Contaminated Sites: 64,541
Leaking storage tanks: 5,458
Corrective action reports: 70
7. San Diego
Contaminated Sites: 51,009
Leaking storage tanks: 3,740
Corrective action reports: 18
6. Indianapolis
Contaminated Sites: 33,857
Leaking storage tanks: 1,206
Corrective action reports: 34
5. Minneapolis-St. Paul
Contaminated Sites: 65,969
Leaking storage tanks: 4,444
Corrective action reports: 52
4. Los Angeles
Contaminated Sites: 271,360
Leaking storage tanks: 9,920
Corrective action reports: 159
3. Portland
Contaminated Sites: 62,466
Leaking storage tanks: 20,655
Corrective action reports: 10
2. Milwaukee
Contaminated Sites: 47,531
Leaking storage tanks: 3,872
Corrective action reports: 41
1. Baltimore
Contaminated Sites: 88,284
Leaking storage tanks: 0
Corrective action reports: 23