Environment America has released a report on smog statistics for 2010 and for the first 9 months of 2011, and it’s not pretty for Tulsa and Oklahoma City. In 2010 Tulsa was the 104th smoggiest city and Oklahoma City was 121st. Unfortunately this year things have taken a turn for the worst, based off of the last 9 months Tulsa ranks 14th and Oklahoma ranks 12th.
So what is smog and how is it effecting Oklahomans? The term “smog” started in London in the early 1900’s to describe the combination of fog and smoke. However, today what we call “smog” is largely ground-level ozone. Ozone is beneficial when it’s above the earth, it helps protect us but when it’s at ground-level it becomes harmful to human health.
The American Lung Association estimates nearly half of all Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of smog. Exposure to smog can exacerbate respiratory illnesses, like asthma, and even cause premature death. People with respiratory illnesses, the elderly and children are especially are risk.
“According to a RAND Corporation health study, in California alone, high levels of smog pollution contributed to nearly 30,000 emergency room visits and hospital admissions and $193 million in hospital medical care expenses from 2005 to 2007.”– read more
This summer the EPA finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule that will reduce nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides that power plants put off. The rule is estimated to save as many as 34,000 lives in 2014. However, the TRAIN Act which past the House this week threatens to delay this rule. This is after another life saving measure was delayed by the Obama administration.
“…EPA must set a National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone within the range of 60 to 70 parts per billion averaged over eight hours, as unanimously recommended by the independent board of air experts and scientists created under the Clean Air Act to provide periodic review and recommendations on air quality standards. The Obama administration considered updating the 2008 standard, but decided in early September 2011 to abandon this effort and update the standard in 2013,” says Enviroment America
We can all help reduce smog by doing things like driving less, using public transportation and/or carpooling, and using electric lawn mowers or at least avoiding mowing on ozone alert days. You can also sign up for wind power from OG&E to help support bring more wind power to Oklahoma. These things may seem small but if we all do them it will add up.
About the Author
Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.
Photo Credit: Jordan R. MacDonald
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