Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How To Avoid Getting a Sunburn on the Inside of Your Lungs

You probably know someone with asthma or COPD. Now you can do something to help them breathe.
An all-too-frequent smoggy day in Tampa. 

The most common reason any child will ever miss school is when they suffer an asthma attack. You might not think of Florida as having a smog problem, but actually 13 counties* in the Panhandle, Gulf Coast and Central Florida now have smog at levels that aggravate asthma sufferers, contributing to keeping kids home sick from school.

All too often they end up in hospital ER’s. Smog is created when emissions from our cars’ tailpipes and power plant smokestacks are transformed by something we have plenty of – Florida sunshine – into smog. Orlando exceeds safe smog level; Hillsborough's Air Quality Gets An "F"

Kids aren’t the only ones who are harmed when we have smoggy days. Seniors with COPD or adults with other respiratory conditions can also experience the “sunburn on the inside of their lungs” that comes from exercising outdoors on days when ground level ozone levels get too high – something that happens here all too often.

After waiting 6 years for the government to catch up to medical research, the EPA has finally proposed a new rule that would require these counties to clean up their air. But this new clean-air safeguard is in danger of falling short of truly protecting our kids and seniors from dangerous pollution.

Colin can't afford more dangerous air pollution
With a strong smog rule, these 13 Florida counties* will have to invest in the transit options and safer streets Florida lacks that force us all to drive (and pollute) when we’d rather walk, bike or ride a bus or train.

As important as transit is, It's not just about giving people a choice to sometimes travel without driving a car. Even after transit options are finally adopted here, most Floridians will continue to drive their cars most of the time. We also must continue to improve fuel economy standards while providing the infrastructure and incentives that will allow us to replace our dirty internal combustion engine vehicles with electric cars, trucks and transit buses.  

Of course, the cleaner the source of electricity for vehicles, and all other purposes, the cleaner the air becomes. Emissions from dirty energy utilities like Duke and FP&L that contribute half or more of our state’s smog will also need to decline by their finally switching from burning dirty coal to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency incentives for homes and businesses. The result: the many Floridians who now suffer will be free to play and walk outside every day without fear of further damaging their lungs.

*Smoggiest of all is Hillsborough, with Sarasota & Orange almost as bad. Manatee, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Osceola, Seminole, Bay, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Escambia also have unhealthy levels of smog.

Phil Compton, FL Healthy Air Campaign
Tim Heberlein, FL Beyond Coal Campaign
St. Petersburg, FL 727-824-8813