So far this year, Louisville has had a record number of Air Quality Alert days, when levels of ozone were dangerously high. But in recent years, the city has made progress in controlling air pollution. The state of Louisville’s air and upcoming regulations will be the subject of a panel discussion today.
- A North Carolina law professor has filed an ethics complaint against the Washington, D.C. law firm that insinuated inbreeding was responsible for birth defects in Appalachia. The law firm made the comments while trying to refute a study connecting mountaintop removal to birth defect rates.
- The Louisville Metro Council will interview the 15 applicants who are vying for the District 1 seat on October 11 and meet a week later to select a candidate to fill the position.
- Louisville Metro Government has issued an air quality alert for tomorrow. This is the 19th air quality alert day called so far this year. Kentuckiana Air Education Director Dee Lynch says ozone usually isn’t a problem this late in the year. But she says a high pressure area called a ‘ridge’ is moving into Louisville.
As Louisville suffers a string of bad air quality days due to high ozone levels, the Obama Administration has announced that it’s withdrawing a proposal to strengthen the nation’s ozone standard.
President Barack Obama has asked Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw a draft proposal that would tighten the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The proposal would have placed stricter regulations on polluters and required major environmental upgrades for most industries to comply with the Clean Air Act.
The EPA had predicted the proposed rule would protect the health of children and economically-vulnerable citizens. In a statement, Mr. Obama reiterated his administration’s commitment to protecting public health and the environment, but said the new ozone standard would create regulatory uncertainty in uncertain economic times.
The move was widely criticized by environmental groups, who saw the move as capitulation to the GOP.
The announcement won’t affect Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ proposed rate increases before the Public Service Commission. Because the rule was a draft rule, it wasn’t factored into the company’s estimates of environmental upgrades.
The EPA plans to revisit the ozone rule in 2013.
Louisville is mired in a string of unhealthy air days, and the ozone levels expected today and tomorrow will be the highest the city has seen so far this year. A study recently released suggests links between climate change and increased ozone exposure.
Ozone happens when pollution from exhaust and industries combine and chemically react in the presence of heat and sunlight. So, as average temperatures in some regions rise, we could see more bad air days.
Liz Perera is a public health expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists, and a co-author of the report.
“What’s going to happen in a warming world is we’re going to see more days that are conducive to ozone formation. What we looked at in our report is what is that going to do to the U.S. population in terms of health impacts.”
Ten percent of children in Jefferson County have asthma, which Perera says is a high percentage, but on par with other regional cities like Cleveland. The report estimates that by 2020, increased exposure to ozone in the United States could raise health care costs by $5.4 billion.
Louisville has already had 19 Air Quality Alert days this year, surpassing last year’s record of 18.
Air pollution causes irritation in the lungs, and the immune system reacts to it. But when someone has breathing problems and is exposed to natural allergens in the air AND pollution, the effects are intensified.
Dr. Gerald Lee is a professor of allergy and immunology at the University of Louisville. He’s done research on the effect of diesel exhaust particles and dust mites on asthmatic mice.
“When I had an asthmatic mouse and I gave diesel to that mouse, their asthma severity, their antibodies against the house dust mite, all these things were enhanced in the presence of that pollutant,” he said.
So pollution can affect those with other allergies or asthma first. But Lee says the answer to the city’s growing number of Air Quality Alert days isn’t necessarily to stay inside.
“I don’t think it’s going to make a difference for the kinds of central issues we’re talking about, which is how pollution plays a huge role in enhancing our responses to these things that are usually benign,” he said.
To improve air quality, Lee says Louisville ultimately will have to reduce some of its biggest sources of pollution, from the highways to the power plants.
Tomorrow is the first alert day this year that’s predicted to have such high ozone levels that it’s dangerous for everyone.
An Air Quality Alert has been issued for the Louisville metro area. Ozone levels will be at an unhealthy level today.
The Louisville Air Pollution Control District advises that those sensitive to ozone include children and active adults, older adults, and people with heart disease, and lung disease, such as asthma. These individuals should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.
You can avoid adding more ozone to the atmosphere by reducing automobile use today, delaying mowing, and avoiding refueling your car during daylight hours.
by Stephanie Crosby
An Air Quality Alert has been issued for the Louisville area for tomorrow. Air Pollution Control District spokesperson Matt Stull says it’s the first alert of the year, and it’s coming earlier than usual.
He says the levels of ozone are expected to be dangerous for some people who are sensitive to air pollutants – such as children, the elderly and the chronically ill.
“It’s kind of doubly-hard for a lot of people because pollen levels are already up, and I know a lot of people who suffer with allergies and asthma as a result of the allergies, they’ve having a tough way to go,” says Stull. “So we’re really urging them to take care over the next couple of days to maybe limit their activity to the early morning or late in the evening.”
Stull says the city’s first air quality alert is coming earlier than usual because of the unseasonably warm temperatures and stagnant air. Last year’s first air quality alert came in late May.
The city has issued several alerts about poor air quality so far this summer. The alerts suggest you drive less, mow your lawn after sunset, and wait to fuel up until evening, too. They caution those in “sensitive” groups to avoid strenuous activity outside. When you hear about an air quality alert, do you change your plans for the day in any way?