2011 July 18: CT: A case for “no burn” days when there is an air quality alert
See if this makes sense in your state. I have sent this out in CT to the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health. I thought people in other states might also find this useful.
WHY A “NO BURN” RECOMMENDATION MAKES SENSE ON DAYS THAT HAVE AIR QUALITY ALERTS
Ground level ozone can trigger unhealthy air days and cause state environmental departments and state health departments to issue “Air Quality Alerts.” On those days it would be important to issue recommendations for a “no burn” day so that additional PM 2.5 levels are not added to the already unhealthy air. Ground level ozone and PM 2.5 cause many of the same adverse health effects to both children and adults, and thus the accumulative effect of both pollutants can be a serious. Both ozone and PM 2.5 cause:
(1) Airway irritation, coughing, and pain when taking a deep breath;
(2) Breathing difficulties;
(3) Aggravation of asthma;
(4) Increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses like bronchitis.
1. Ground level ozone health issues
http://www.epa.gov/glo/health.html (EPA website)
From EPA’s Website:
Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Ground-level ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set air quality standards to protect both public health and the public welfare (e.g. crops and vegetation). Ground-level ozone affects both.
(1) Health Effects of high Ozone Exposures
People with lung disease, children, older adults, and people who are active can be affected when ozone levels are unhealthy. Numerous scientific studies have linked ground-level ozone exposure to a variety of problems, including:
(1) airway irritation, coughing, and pain when taking a deep breath;
(2) wheezing and breathing difficulties during exercise or outdoor activities;
(3) inflammation, which is much like a sunburn on the skin;
(4) aggravation of asthma and increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis; and,
(5) permanent lung damage with repeated exposures.
(2) What You Should Know About Ozone and Your Health
*Ozone in the air we breathe can harm our health-particularly on hot, sunny days when ozone can reach unhealthy levels.
*Even relatively low levels of ozone can cause health effects.
*People with lung disease, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors may be particularly sensitive to ozone.
*Ozone exposure may also increase the risk of premature death from heart or lung disease.
*This fact sheet tells you how you can find out when air quality is unhealthy and take simple steps to protect your health.
2. Ozone created in the day remains in the evening and stays unhealthy. Therefore “no burn” days should include the evening hours.
3. Human Health Effects of PM 2.5 Exposures (PM 2.5 particles are in wood smoke.)
From EPA’s website:
Inhalable particles, particularly fine particles, have the greatest demonstrated impact on human health. Their small size allows them to get deep into the lungs and from there they can reach or trigger inflammation in the lung, blood vessels or the heart, and perhaps other organs. Studies have linked PM exposure to health problems such as:
(1) Irritation of the airways, coughing, and difficulty breathing
(2) Reduced lung function
(3) Aggravated asthma
(4) Chronic bronchitis
(5) Irregular heartbeat
(6) Nonfatal heart attacks
(7) Some cancers
4. Because both ozone and PM 2.5 have many of the same serious health issues – the accumulative effect is very bad for people’s health. Therefore, cities, towns and states should address this problem by issuing “no burn” days when air quality alerts have been issued.
Nancy Alderman, President
Environment and Human Health, Inc.