The American Lung Association gave DC and every Virginia suburb an F for ozone pollution. What effects can humans expect from ozone and other smog-inducing photochemical pollutants?
Ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide are especially harmful for senior citizens, children, and people with heart and lung conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma. It can inflame breathing passages, decrease the lungs' working capacity, cause shortness of breath, pain when inhaling deeply, wheezing, and coughing. It can cause eye and nose irritation and it dries out the protective membranes of the nose and throat and interferes with the body's ability to fight infection, increasing susceptibility to illness. Hospital admissions and respiratory deaths often increase during periods when ozone levels are high.DC and Loudoun got Ds for particle pollution, while Arlington and Fairfax got Cs. And what does that mean for your health?
[Particulate] pollution is estimated to cause 22,000-52,000 deaths per year in the United States (from 2000) and 200,000 deaths per year in Europe. The effects of inhaling particulate matter that have been widely studied in humans and animals now include asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular issues, and premature death.Why does Arlington fight new highways and distant coal plants? To steal a line from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, in the contest between pollution and children's lungs, there's a case to be made that someone should be standing up for children's lungs.
Of course, debates about air quality will be nothing more than hot air if Republicans on Capitol Hill succeed in gutting the Clean Air Act. Democrats and several moderate Republicans in the Senate have already beaten back several attacks, but please make sure your members of Congress know you support strong clean air protections.